Sunday, July 09, 2017

The wisdom of the poor

Notes for a homily for the US from Honduras 
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 

If I were in the U.S. I’d be tempted to give a homily like this today. 

A prominent US personality recently said,

“’Why'd you appoint rich person to be in charge of the economy?” I said, 'Because that's the kind of thinking we want, because they are representing the country…'"
"I love all people -- rich or poor -- but in those particular positions, I just don't want a poor person. Does that make sense? If you insist, I'll do it -- but I like it better this way."

But the wisdom of Jesus is radically different:

“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.”

What are our blinders - we who are rich or relatively rich in terms of the rest of the world? What can’t we see? What is hidden from us? Why might our assumed knowledge be disastrous for the impoverished of the world?

As the US bishops wrote in 1986 in Economic Justice for All, ¶87:

As individuals and as a nation, therefore, we are called to make a fundamental "option for the poor." The obligation to evaluate social and economic activity from the viewpoint of the poor and the powerless arises from the radical command to love one's neighbor as one’s self. Those who are marginalized and whose rights are denied have privileged claims if society is to provide justice for all. This obligation is deeply rooted in Christian belief. As Paul VI stated:
In teaching us charity, the Gospel instructs us in the preferential respect due the poor and the special situation they have in society: the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others.
John Paul II has described this special obligation to the poor as "a call to have a special openness with the small and the weak, those that suffer and weep, those that are humiliated and left on the margin of society, so as to help them win their dignity as human persons and children of God."

Enough said.


The statue is found in front of St. Francis of Assisi Church, New York City.

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