Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
“As followers of Christ, we are challenged to make a fundamental option for the poor-to speak for the voiceless, to defend the defenseless, to assess life styles, policies, and social institutions in terms of their impact on the poor.”
Throughout this past Formation year, the Catholic Community of Waukesha has focused on doing “Small Things with Great Love.” Faith Formation children and teens, along with Waukesha Catholic students, have been exploring the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching to help guide our actions. This month, we focus on the final theme, Option for the Poor and Vulnerable.
It is made clear throughout the Gospels that Jesus calls us to care for the poor; the Catechism tells us that “the Church’s love for the poor is part of her constant tradition.” In this teaching, the use of the word option does not imply a choice to care for the poor; rather, it suggests a preference to fulfill the needs of the poor and vulnerable before our own. We should want to place these needs ahead of our own. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati was a young man who lived out this call well in his life. Pier Giorgio, patron of young adult Catholics, loved giving personal attention to those who were in need. He gave his time and money to the poor and vulnerable. He once received money from his father to purchase a new car, but instead he donated the money to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to help people who were in need. Pier Giorgio didn’t just donate money and walk away, he also visited those who were in need. He was known to give away his shoes or his coat to people he saw in need, but he also gave his time. For Pier Giorgio, the key to his option for the poor was in inner closeness with Christ which stemmed from prayer and Eucharist. You can learn more about Pier Giorgio at frassatiusa.org.
In a way, each of us is currently caring for the vulnerable through our Safer at Home isolation. All of us would prefer to be anywhere but at home; we would rather go to the movies, sporting events, and yes, even to school. By staying home, we are protecting the vulnerable around us who would be unable to overcome this illness. We are experiencing a living example of caring for the vulnerable. While in isolation with your family, what small things can you do with great love? You cannot donate goods at this time; you can’t visit the sick or help your neighbors carry groceries. But you could rake their yards while they are inside their homes. You could create posters with encouraging messages to hold up for them to see through the window. You can call or video chat with people who feel alone right now. You can get along with your brothers and sisters so your house can be peaceful. There is much to do be done. And when we can get back to reaching out to others in person, do those things as well, and do them with great love.