THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2015
A PREFERENTIAL OPTION FOR THE POOR
The mission of Jesus is to bring glad tidings to the poor.
That is just in line with who God is and what God does and
intends to do. God is He who “secures justice for the
oppressed, who gives bread to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners
free, the Lord gives sight to the blind. The Lord raises up
those who are bowed down; ... The Lord protects the resident
alien, comes to the aid of the orphan and the widow”
Jesus came into the world to win for us our salvation and
to bring total liberation, not just to humanity but to all
of creation. “Here is your God, he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense he comes to save you.” (Is 35:4b).
What is the effect, or what should be the effect? “Then
the eyes of the blind shall see, and the ears of the deaf
be opened” (Is 35:5). This is literally what Jesus did
for and to the deaf man (Mk 7:32-35).
that is not all. There is much more as to the effect of God’s
liberation. But how are the poor to be liberated? What does
the work with the poor entail? Total liberation includes economic
liberation, political liberation and environmental liberation
(please read my book “Freeing the Captives”).
With the latter for example, what does God intend to happen?
People are healed and creation is restored to the wonderful
world God created. “Then the lame shall leap like a
stag, and the mute tongue sing for joy. For waters will burst
forth in the wilderness, and streams in the Arabah. The burning
sands will become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of
water; the abode where jackals crouch will be a marsh for
the reed and papyrus.” (Is 35:6-7).
loves the poor. God has a preferential option for the poor.
Jesus healed the sick, and showed his dominion over creation
(e.g. calming the storm at sea). Now he has left the continuation
of his work to us his people, his body on earth. What have
we done? We have oppressed the poor and we have degraded the
Do I mean the world that is in darkness? Yes, certainly a
sinful world, where the poor are oppressed, deprived and exploited.
But no, I do mean we, the people of God, the so-called Christians.
What is truly the place of the poor in the Church? Are not
the powerful politicians and the rich donors often the favored
ones? “For if a man with gold rings on his fingers and
in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person
in shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to
the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Sit here,
please,’ while you say to the poor one, ‘Stand
there,’ or ‘Sit at my feet,’ have you not
made distinctions among yourselves” (Jas 2:2-4a)?
does that say about such Catholics? You have “become
judges with evil designs” (Jas 2:4b)! We have treated
people according to worldly standards, that are in stark contradiction
to the standards of God. In the world the rich and powerful
are extolled and accorded places of honor. In the Kingdom
of God, that privilege belongs to the poor. “Listen,
my beloved brothers. Did not God choose those who are poor
in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom
that he promised to those who love him? (Jas 2:5).
if we are to be true Christians, if we are to continue the
mission of Jesus to bring glad tidings to the poor, then “show
no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord
Jesus Christ.” (Jas 2:1). Actually that is just the
minimum. Because we are to show partiality, in favor of
the poor. We are to have a preferential option for the
are many Christians, including those of us who really love
God and serve the cause of evangelization, not showing more
fruitful results in our work? One reason is because we do
not love the poor, or do not love the poor enough. If we have
become judges with evil designs, then the God who loves the
poor “thwarts the way of the wicked.” (Ps 146:9b).
more thing. Jesus literally healed the deaf and mute man.
Jesus needs to do the same to and for us, for we too are deaf
and mute. We are deaf when we do not listen to the groanings
of the poor, when we do not listen to the hard teachings of
our Lord, and when we do not hear and heed God’s calling
us to holiness and Christian perfection. We are mute when
we do not speak out against injustice, and when we do not
widely proclaim the salvation Jesus has already brought.
this irony. To the crowd who witnessed the deaf man’s
healing, Jesus “ordered them not to tell anyone. But
the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed
it.” (Mk 7:36). To us who are called to be witnesses
to Jesus, we are commissioned and told to proclaim the good
news, but we do not.
us do a wide work of evangelization. And let us do a wide
work with the poor. Let us bring Christ into the darkened
lives of people in the world. Let us bring his salvation and
his liberation. And may we all proclaim: “The Lord shall
reign forever; your God, Zion, through all generations! Hallelujah!”