Preferential Option for the Poor | Faith Friday
Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards,
not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the
weak of the world to shame the strong,
and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to
reduce to nothing those who are something,
so that no human being might boast before God.
1 Corinthians 1:26-29
What does the Church mean when she speaks about the preferential option for the poor? When we think of the poor, we normally think of those who are financially poor. I think it's important for us to expand our definition of poverty, however. Poverty is the lacking of any of those things of this world which count for something in the eyes of humankind: money, power, influence, popularity. Paul's words above really capture what the preferential option for the poor is all about. Paul calls out the earthly qualities that need to be reduced, or "shamed". As much as we ignore the poor (or weak, or despised), we are shamed. And as much as we defend the poor, we are reduced and we too can become poor.
This week, hundreds of thousands of people (young and old) gathered in Washington to March in defense of life. They marched for the unborn, and they witnessed on behalf of people at all vulnerable stages of life. They marched for the weak.
The segmentation of justice issues in the Catholic community can be a real tragedy. Cardinal Sean O'Malley chiseled away at some of those barriers in his homily at the March for Life Opening Mass. By speaking about the unjust economic roots of abortion, Cardinal Sean reminded us that our fight for the unborn is the same fight as our fight for the financially disadvantaged: it is a living of the preferential option for the poor, weak, despised.
When we defend what is weak and small, we humble ourselves in our haughtiness, power, popularity, comfort, financial wealth and influence. We make ourselves the servants of the most small: be it a child, a poor expentant mother, a dying person, a mentally ill person. And when we make ourselves the servants of the poor, together we can turn and approach God as brothers and sisters, no one person boasting over the other. That is how God longs to receive us, because that is exactly how God approached us: humble, poor, and small.