This morning, as I always do, I made a cup of coffee and sat down to see what blog fodder I could pull from the ephemera that is the internet. Many days it can be a bit of a chore; not today, though. One of the very first things I saw was a story shared by Roger Wolsey, a Methodist pastor who isn’t acting all that Methodist-ey these days (the guy’s a progressive, for God’s sake!) about a Catholic priest who said things that sounded…, let’s say less than gracious. According to an article on Yahoo News, Father Ray Blake called people who are poor “lying, drug-abusing illegitimates” and a Daily Mail article quotes him as saying they were sent “to test my holiness”. For some reason, Roger was upset, saying the good father should listen to what Pope Francis had to say on the subject. I disagree, and say “I’m with you, Father Ray!”
Every word Fr Blake says about people who are poor is true: they are messy, many of them are addicts, they’re irritating and they are not above lying and playing on your sympathy to get what they need. Forget testing my holiness, they try my patience like nothing else.
I don’t want to sound callous and unfeeling, though. I feel kind of bad for the poor, I really do. But, do they have to make it so hard for those of us who aren’t poor to enjoy the fruits of our labor? I mean, seriously, how am I supposed to be happy driving through town in my nice, comfy, air-conditioned car when I have to look at some joker standing on the street corner in 90 degree heat holding a sign that says “Homeless, Please help”? And, how the hell could anyone enjoy their meal at one of those trendy downtown restaurants knowing they’ll have to run a gauntlet of beggars when they’re done. Hey, it’s not my fault they haven’t eaten in 24 hours. Maybe if they got a job, they could eat at a restaurant, too. Just not the same ones I do, cause I still don’t want to look at them.
Look, I know Jesus said I was supposed to care for “the least of these” and that, by any definition, the people Fr. Blake talks about in his blog post are in that category. I’ll even grant you those messy, irritating, drug-addicted sinners are the very people the J-man was talking about when he made that comment. And, I want to care for them; heck, I’d be happy if I could just care about them. If I don’t, it doesn’t mean that I’m not a Christian. Does it?