God’s Favored People

by Pope Francis

God’s heart has a special place for the poor, so much so that he himself became poor (2 Cor 8:9). The entire history of our redemption is marked by the presence of the poor.

Salvation came to us from the “yes” uttered by a lowly maiden from a small town on the fringes of a great empire. The Saviour was born in a manger, in the midst of animals, like children of poor families.

He was presented at the Temple along with two turtledoves, the offering made by those who could not afford a lamb (cf. Lk 2:24; Lev 5:7). He was raised in a home of ordinary workers and worked with his own hands to earn his bread.

When he began to preach the Kingdom, crowds of the dispossessed followed him, illustrating his words: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor (Lk 4:18).

He assured those burdened by sorrow and crushed by poverty that God has a special place for them in his heart: Blessed are you poor, yours is the kingdom of God (Lk 6:20).

He made himself one of them: I was hungry and you gave me food to eat, and he taught them that mercy towards all of these is the key to heaven (cf. Mt 25:5). …

[The poor] have much to teach us. Not only do they share in the sensus fidei, (the supernatural appreciation of faith on the part of the whole people, when, from the bishops to the least of the faithful, they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals) but in their difficulties they know the suffering Christ.

We need to let ourselves be evangelized by them. The new evangelization is an invitation to acknowledge the saving power at work in their lives and to put them at the centre of the Church’s pilgrim way.

We are called to find Christ in them, to lend our voice to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them and to embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through them….

I want to say, with regret, that the worst discrimination which the poor suffer is the lack of spiritual care.

The great majority of the poor have a special openness to the faith; they need God and we must not fail to offer them his friendship, his blessing, his word, the celebration of the sacraments and a journey of growth and maturity in the faith.

Our preferential option for the poor must mainly translate into a privileged and preferential religious care.

Excerpted from the encyclical, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel)