“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
Because he has anointed me
To proclaim good news to the poor…
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4:18f)
In announcing himself on the public circuit Jesus read these words from the prophet Isaiah, then very squarely declared that he, and all who would claim to be his
followers, would live out that priority for the poor – not just in words, but in making it tangible.
It is incomprehensible that a government that puts such store on their ‘Christian’ credentials could do so much damage to the lives of those who are already ‘poor’ by Australian standards. The index of wealth distribution records a significant move over recent decades in favour of the already rich and increasing poverty at the other end of the economic spectrum. The federal budget handed down this week has without apology taken long-term punitive measures to inflict additional hardship on sections of the Australian population that is already struggling to pay mortgages, pay for utilities, health and education, and put food on the table, while the other end of the spectrum receives a short-term painless “pinch” from pockets already fat. The potential impact on those families in the long-term literally scares me.
As a person of Christian faith I cannot condone such a lopsided weighting of the so-called ‘heavy-lifting.’ I must name it as contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As it was in Isaiah’s time, the people of God will again be required to step up to the mark and speak the Good News of the Gospel to the poor … and to be the Good News of the Gospel to the poor. But we cannot neglect taking up the prophetic role on
behalf of the poor.