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Idaho Catholic Podcast

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Preferential Treatment for the Poor?

Where did this idea that there should be preferential treatment for the poor, is it based in Scripture, or tradition, or What?
The concept is deeply rooted in our faith tradition.
Jesus Himself provided us with such example.
Jesus taught us to choose our path in the way He chose Bethlehem as His beginning, the way He chose the cross over the crown, the way he chose to have no place to lay His head being born in a manger, they way He chose Mary who was poor to be the mother of God.
Freedom is crippled when in extreme poverty (Gaudium et Spes).
The poor need corporal works of mercy, and in their urgent and extreme need, deserve our preferential treatment.
There is a big difference in having what you need to survive:
Food
Water
Clothing
Shelter
and having excess.
In our times a special obligation binds us to make ourselves the neighbor of every person without exception. And of actively helping him when he comes across our path, whether he be
an old person abandoned by all,
a foreign laborer unjustly looked down upon,
a refugee,
a child born of an unlawful union and wrongly suffering for a sin he did not commit,
or a hungry person
who disturbs our conscience by recalling the voice of the Lord:
"As long as you did it for one on these the least of my bretheren, you did for me." (MT 25:49)

We can clearly see that the preferential option for the poor is not a new idea. A basic moral test for any society is how it treats it's weakest and most vulnerable members.

As Christians we are called to respond to the needs of all our brothers and sisters but those with the greatest needs require the greatest response. (US Catholic Bishops, "A Century of Social Teaching")

Where are some examples in the Bible to help the poor?

Luke 6:20 "Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours"

Luke 6:21 "Blessed are you who are hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh."

Luke 6:24 "But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation"

Luke 18:24 "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God"

Luke 4:18 "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free..."

MT5:42 "Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn back on one who wants to borrow"

If you say that we should give preferential treatment for the poor are you not discriminating others?

We are in a covenant with a God who prefers works of mercy over sacrifice. The preferential option for the poor is not a call to prefer the poor exclusive of all others nor is it an option for a class struggle. The poor are victims of an injustice. Putting the needs of the poor first is not discriminatory but rather it is an act of justice, of righting a wrong


Need can be quantifiable. This idea of need should not be confused with wants. Only the wealthy could confuse needs with wants, the truly poor understand what a need truly is.

There are basic standards in life that all should be able to attain, especially when others have surplus. To have more than you need while others have less than what is necessary to survive, and not sharing what you have is unthinkable, especially when you consider that everything that one has is from god in the first place and it is being withheld from some of God's children.........

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