EG 197: The Special Place of the Poor In God’s People

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdaleneIn Evangelii Gaudium 197-201, Pope Francis addresses “The special place of the poor in God’s people.” Note that the poor are considered,  presumed to be among the people of God.

The incarnation took place on the fringes, in humble conditions, not among gold and silks:

197. God’s heart has a special place for the poor, so much so that he himself “became poor” (2 Cor 8:9). The entire history of our redemption is marked by the presence of the poor. Salvation came to us from the “yes” uttered by a lowly maiden from a small town on the fringes of a great empire. The Savior was born in a manger, in the midst of animals, like children of poor families; he was presented at the Temple along with two turtledoves, the offering made by those who could not afford a lamb (cf. Lk 2:24; Lev 5:7); he was raised in a home of ordinary workers and worked with his own hands to earn his bread.

And when the public ministry of the Lord commenced, it was those in need who followed him in crowds:

When he began to preach the Kingdom, crowds of the dispossessed followed him, illustrating his words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor” (Lk 4:18). He assured those burdened by sorrow and crushed by poverty that God has a special place for them in his heart: “Blessed are you poor, yours is the kingdom of God” (Lk 6:20); he made himself one of them: “I was hungry and you gave me food to eat”, and he taught them that mercy towards all of these is the key to heaven (cf. Mt 25:5ff.).

Was it his message? The personal context of the Lord among the poor–those already of his economic caste? We certainly know this message has great appeal to the wealthy. Some like Francis of Assisi embrace a new way of living. Others, like the rich young man (cf. Mark 10:17ff) sought the grace of  God, but found themselves saddened by their material burdens.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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