In the Old Testament, we find in the psalms and the prophets the plea of the poor for justice. This plea is repated for the ears of the Lord in the Gospels: heal us, feed us, free us from demons. The plea is not always polite, and sometimes it is accusatory: if you had been with us, bad things would not have happened.
In yesterday’s post, we found, perhaps, that we are the ears of the Lord in the world today–we believers. When the poor ask for mercy, God clearly intends the larger community of faith to act. “With all our might” is how the institutional church words it:
188. The Church has realized that the need to heed this plea is itself born of the liberating action of grace within each of us, and thus it is not a question of a mission reserved only to a few: “The Church, guided by the Gospel of mercy and by love for (humankind), hears the cry for justice and intends to respond to it with all her might”.[CDF, Libertatis Nuntius , XI, 1] In this context we can understand Jesus’ command to his disciples: “You yourselves give them something to eat!” (Mk 6:37): it means working to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and to promote the integral development of the poor, as well as small daily acts of solidarity in meeting the real needs which we encounter. The word “solidarity” is a little worn and at times poorly understood, but it refers to something more than a few sporadic acts of generosity. It presumes the creation of a new mindset which thinks in terms of community and the priority of the life of all over the appropriation of goods by a few.
This explanation seems buried deep in this document, but it’s appropriate enough. A few Christian capitalists might complain about the pope and his words, but the witness of the Lord in undeniable. Jesus looked at the rich young man with love. But even as he loved everyone, the poor were his clear priority. The life of all is a greater priority–much greater–than preserving the privileges of the few. This shouldn’t be a surprise to any of us. Nor should this approach be foreign to us.
Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium is available online here.