The Perspective of Justice

Lifting Up the Poor

Today’s liturgy contains a double-barreled attack on the rich. The Gospelwarns us that “you cannot give yourself to God and money.” We cannot serve two masters, trying to worship at the altars of both God and wealth.

The First Reading is harsher. It contains Amos’ diatribe against the wealthy “who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land!”
Contrasting this image of rich people at war with the poor is the image of God lifting up the poor and of Christ becoming poor to make us rich out of his poverty.

  “I am the Savior of all people, says the Lord. Whatever their troubles, I will answer their cry.” God saves both rich and poor and answers the cry of both rich and poor.

The important thing to notice is that in God’s world, unlike the world we have created, the poor are heard and they are lifted up. In God’s world, it isn’t just the rich who have it all.

If we worship the true God, and if we want to enter the world that God rules, then we will do as God does, hearing the cry of the poor and lifting them up. To ignore and mistreat the poor is to invite God’s justice: “Never will I forget a thing they have done.”

We ought to sharpen the awareness of our duty of solidarity with the poor, to which charity leads us. This solidarity means that we make ours their problems and their struggles, that we know how to speak with them. This has to be concretized in criticism of injustice and oppression, in the struggle against the intolerable situation which a poor person often has to tolerate, in the willingness to dialogue with the groups responsible for that situation in order to make them understand their obligations.”

Latin American Bishops, Medellin Documents,
Poverty of the Church, 1968:10

Gerald Darring


**From Saint Louis University

Kristin Clauson