“Who are the poor and vulnerable among us?”
Everywhere I turn these waning days of Lent, I’m being confronted with some kind of justice issue. My heart pounds, blood boils, and I pray to God, “How would you like me to respond?” Here are a few of the situations informing my Lenten journey and my walk with Christ, contemplating justice and Catholic social teaching:
….Proposed gun legislation in Minnesota intersects with national news and headlines about the shooting of Trayvon Martin. I think of my four former students who were all murdered in north Minneapolis, the “From Death to Life” mothers that meet at St. Jane House, who are all grieving the loss of a child to gun violence; and I recognize that it is their stories, these relationships, that inform my own heart on this matter.
…Yesterday, I got a call about the proposed marriage amendment in this state, and I prayed.
…Tales over last night’s dinner and today’s lunch surface issues on immigrant labor and larger questions around just wage and employment practices. And I pray.
…I nurture seeds that will become plants in my garden this summer and shop for groceries down the street at our local co-op, and I think about what fresh produce other families have access to, and what informs our collective health, well-being and market economies where food is concerned. I pray.
One of the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching is the “Option for the Poor and Vulnerable.” It reads:
A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our traditions recalls the story of the Last Judgement (Mt. 25: 31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.
The question for me is always, “Who are the poor and vulnerable among us?” I turn to Matthew’s gospel, and glean the following responses: The hungry, thirsty, naked, the sick, imprisoned, the stranger. I imagine children and the elderly in Christ’s litany, and think of all on the margins of society. I think of the circumstances of Trayvon Martin’s visit to the gated Florida community where he was shot as a suspicious person by George Zimmerman; certainly Matthew’s gospel and Christ’s message is for these two men and ultimately calls for our compassion, prayers and action as Catholics. “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
What justice issues are you grappling with this Lent? What parts of Catholic Social Teaching inform your prayers and discerned action?
Please join me in prayer as we head into Holy Week, and recognize our suffering in Christ’s, putting into his hands these issues and circumstances that beg for His love, mercy, and the miracle and mystery of his resurrection.