Option for the Poor
Caring for those in poverty, both in our local neighbourhood and throughout the world, is a fundamental duty of us all. However, the preferential option for the poor goes further than this. In the Gospels Jesus, time and again shows a preferential option for the poor, putting them first, giving them special importance, thinking of their needs and enabling them to have their rightful place in the world. It is not enough simply to think of those living in poverty and try to help them. The voice of people living in poverty needs to be heard. We must enable them to be full part of the decision making process. We must enable those living in poverty to play a full role in society.
Job 34:20 The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
Sirach 4:1-10 Don’t delay giving to those in need.
Isaiah 25:4-5 God is a refuge for the poor.
Luke 4:16-21 Jesus proclaims his mission: to bring good news to the poor and oppressed.
Luke 6:20-23 Blessed are the poor, theirs is the kingdom of God.
Tobit 4:5-11 Give from what you have received and do not turn away from the poor.
Isaiah 1:16-17 Seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.
Matthew 25: 31-46 Just as you did it to the least of these, you did it to me.
Luke 16:19-31 The rich man has a responsibility to care for Lazarus.
2Corinthians 9:6-15 God’s gifts are given to be shared.
James 2:14-18 Faith without works is dead.
Key Church documents such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), Papal documents etc.
World Day of the Poor: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/poveri.index.html
(NB – These links will only take you to Pope Francis’ messages. If however you click the tab called (Holy Father) on the top you can access other Popes’ messages.)
Link to a particular Saint whose charism is linked to this particular principle
St. Oscar Romero http://www.romerotrust.org.uk/who-was-archbishop-oscar-romero
St. Mary McKillop: https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=4958
Link to local/national groups associated with this principle
Refugee Council: https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/
St Vincent de Paul: https://www.svp.org.uk/
Voices from the Margins website: www.voicesfromthemargins.org.uk Regarding poverty
Real Benefits Street: You Tube: https:// www.youtube.com/channel/UC06AXoPKEFPJFs5o7ekz_0A About myths related to poverty
The Romero Prayer
It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts; it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water the seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realising that. This enables us to do something and to do it well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
Questions for personal /group reflection
What or who comes to mind when we think of ‘the poor’? Are all forms of poverty visible? Do we consider the person living close by who hides the fact that they receive less than £500 per month benefits? Could we manage on such a small amount of money?
Where in our current expenditure would we make savings if we found ourselves unexpectedly on a reduced income? When we pretend to ignore the person begging on the street do we ever wonder why it is them and not us in that situation? Do we acknowledge that that person is somebody’s son or daughter or maybe spouse or parent or sibling?
If our family members were living in such a way how would we desire them to be treated? Imagine that you are struggling to feed your children. You are already feeling constantly unwell as you are not eating much as you give everything to your children, yet you are forced to the conclusion that there is no other choice but to use a food bank. What are the feelings and emotions that accompany this decision? Is it easy to decide to visit the foodbank or do we try manage without? What other options are there? Why might we put off asking for this help? What opportunities do we have to exercise the Corporal Works of Mercy? Do we seize these opportunities thanking God and praising Him for our chance to love our neighbour, or are we simply too indifferent, lazy or scared to act
We have received a wonderful gift of faith in the power of Jesus Christ and His coming to earth as man, whilst still being fully God, of his life, death on the cross and Resurrection and His promise to us that we can choose to be in relationship with Him for ever in heaven. What about those who have not received that gift as nobody ever told them of the love Jesus Christ has for them, or they are unable to accept it due to loneliness, tragedy, suffering or sin in their lives. This spiritual poverty can be even more crippling than physical poverty. Do we ever stop to consider that the well-dressed person sat next to us at Mass every week might be desperately hurting or spiritually poor? How can we witness with our lives? Do we practise the Spiritual Works of Mercy?