Preferential Option for the Poor

An option for the poor does not mean that God loves poor people more than rich people. But it does mean that we may have to work harder to love others as Jesus has loved Archbishop Oscar Romero A modest and good man, he was mostly inclined toward books and theological study. ( recognized the tragedy and devastation of the poverty of his native El Salvador) he identified the true causes–the political and economic causes– what it means to be Catholic, what it means to be neighbor, and what it means to be human. nd what it means to be human Last March, parts of the state of Kentucky where I live received the heaviest rainfall ever recorded for that area in a 24-hour period. flood destroying many towns and cities. But as staggering as the devastation and loss were, as remarkable were the stories of self-sacrifice and courage of neighbors who saved one another from harm’s way. some lost their lives as they tried to save others…….

Three elderly women tell the story of their rescue by a high-school boy, A week later, his body was discovered downstream We are, we believe, made in the image of God. But what does that mean? We are made in the image of a God who, in the person of Jesus, In other words, we are made with a predisposition to care about one another’s lives In 1979, the Latin American bishops to address….. “From the heart of Latin America, a cry rises to the heavens ever louder and more imperative. It is the cry of a people who suffer. The most popular and powerful effect of the document “The Preferential Option for the Poor,” “Communities of Salt and Light,” (referred from “The Preferential Option for the Poor”Even Pope John Paul II has adopted his own version of the phrase when he talks about (Latin American bishops in 1968)”[We] cannot remain indifferent in the face of the tremendous social injustice existent in Latin America, which keeps the majority of our people in dismal poverty, which in many cases becomesinhuman wretchedness. “Dismal poverty” and “inhuman wretchedness” were filling the pews The church, Lernoux wrote, “encouraged a deep strain of cynicism among the upper classes, who learned that they might do anythingincluding slaughter innocent peasants, as long as they went to Mass, contributed land and money to the church’s aggrandizement, and baptized their children The transformation of the Latin American church in the last 25 years borders on the miraculous And the adaptation of the preferential option for the poor by other conferences f bishops, the pope, theologians, and other Christian and nonChristian one reason the phrase has received such attention is its theological and biblical soundness.

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As peasants encountered the words of the prophets, they heard of a God whose care seemed particularly committed to those in anguish As campesina widows, whose husbands had been tortured and killed by government forces, gathered to study Jesus’ words about the reign of God, Jesus’ own actionsa man whose commitment to the dignity of all and the liberation of the poor was of such passion and importance The German theologian Jurgen Moltmann has observed, “Reading the Bible with the eyes of the poor is a different thing from reading it with a full belly

Father Jon Sobrino writes that there are two classes of people in the world: rich and poor. ~~~ The rich do not worry about whether they will eat tomorrow~~~ The poor do~( most of us are rich) So here’s my confession: I am the son of a rich couple. My youth was spent in contemplation of tennis and water skiing. I spent $700 my first semester in college just on dates. I once had 30 pairs of shoes. I am, at times, utterly disinterested in matters even remotely connected with the poor It is important to be directly connected to the poor. 1) didn’t care a thing about the world’s poor until I cared about one poor person….

After a month or so, I stopped being scared of Tom and started to like him…. I heard the story of his cruel, broken life, and it changed me some. 2) Ask questions and search for answers. our face-to-face contact may stimulate an appetite for some kind of information or education. talk to the people who are already veterans of this stuff. They’ll be your biggest help. Also, keep an eye open for lectures or workshops offered in your diocese that pertain to matters of human suffering 3) 3 Start to advocate. It is very important that we become advocates for the healing of the political and economic elationships and policies that are broken. Bread for the World, a great Christian organization that lobbies in Washington on hunger and poverty issues 4) 4 Work with the poor as they help themselves. This is what we might call solidarity work. It’s a mixture of the first three, 5) A mature, well-considered dedication to the poor also will probably result in a simpler life, with less things and less preoccupation with money and possessions. 6) 6 Give money Remember to give a good bit of your money away we are: a people who, when we are honest and awake, would do anything to end one another’s suffering. ew critical characteristics of the preferential option for the poor. 1. 2. 3. 4. It is scriptural~~The option for the poor is reflected in by–God in scripture It has a goal~~A preferential option for the poor does not assent to the position that poverty is inevitable or acceptable It is multifaceted. This doesn’t mean that a preferential option for the poor can be expressed only in political and economic activism. It is a response to sin A preferential option for the poor calls us to stand on the side of those whose lives have been diminished by neglect or scarcity.

This means we stand, not as enemies of anyone, but as allies of the poor and as adversaries of the decisions and realities that rob them of life. It is based on faith. ~~It names our willingness to suffer and sacrifice and endure hardship on behalf of our sisters and brothers. 5. RELATED ARTICLE: Are you serving the poor, or … In this country, ministers aided by parish members have rallied across lines of race, class, and region to bring food and clothing to needy “sister” parishes and to suffering communities near and far.

Even 10-, 11-, and 12-year-old children try to help. I think of a Protestant Sunday School teacher in a Boston suburb who enlisted sixth- and seventh-graders to carry food packages, collect clothing, and become summer hosts to children living under great duress in an urban ghetto. The minister told me something about what they were doing and why. “It is selfish, I know–we are the obvious beneficiaries of all this. Our children escape their suburban cocoon and learn how the world goes for others who are not as lucky as they are. I have to forget that though; I have to assume that we are put here by the good Lord to reach out to others–that is our mission, as it was His. I tell our youngsters and their parents that what we are doing, this voluntary activity, is an expression of our Christianity. This is who a Christian is: someone who doesn’t sit back and say, I go to church on Sundays, so I’m a Christian, but someone who remembers how Jesus lived and tries hard to follow that lead. ” –From A Call of Service: A Witness to Idealism, by Robert Coles (Houghton Mifflin, 1993

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