What does the Church say about the Poor?

This week I wanted to start talking about Catholic Social Justice teaching and how it applies to our stewardship of creation.  Warning:  Some of the following content may be considered “heavy”.  Bear with me.  Sometimes you just have to get serious.  –Laura

First, I want to introduce you to an idea that you may be unaware of but that is part of the foundation for the Church’s teachings on social justice–“the universal destination of goods.”  This may only be a short phrase but it is filled with wisdom and with implications.

The universal destination of goods is a phrase used to explain why each of us is entitled to have access to what we need for survival.  It states that the “universal destination” of all goods of the earth is each one of God’s children.  In other words, God intends for all of us to be able to use what He created.  Creation was not intended for a select few.  It wasn’t intended only for the wealthy or, perhaps, the holy.  No.  God made creation for ALL of us for our use.

In preschool and kindergarten we’re all taught to share which, generally, goes against our base instincts.  We learn to take turns and “use our words” instead of hogging the toys or taking them from someone else because we want them.  We all want the brand new box of unbroken crayons with the fresh pointed tips and wrappers that are still legible and intact.  But, in school we learn to use our resources wisely and share what we are not using.  We are not allowed to hog the new box of crayons and we are taught to take care of them to keep them “new” for as long as possible. 

Well, many of us have forgotten those lessons now that we are adults.  We often forget that we need to share our resources with others and keep them in “new” condition.  When we forget those lessons, we interfere with God’s plan for Creation.  We are preventing those resources from reaching their intended destination.  We are actively working against God’s plan for humanity! 

When we hoard goods that we don’t need, when we use more than we should, when we fall into the trap of gluttony and selfishness, that is when we interfere with God’s plan.  Individuals fall prey to this as do governments.  Corrupt politicians and leaders have, at times in the present and in the past, withheld resources from their citizens either from a desire to control the people they govern or from a disregard for their welfare. 

It is the poor who are most vulnerable to this selfish behavior.  But, knowing this, we can become more aware of the impact of our actions on others.  We can become more responsible with our resources including our financial resources in order to help the poor.  We can work against corrupt governments that seek to control their people by controlling their resources.

Remember what you learned in kindergarten and you’ll be on the right track to care for creation and for the poor.  In the words of a teacher, remember to “Share.” and “Take care of your things.”


Next week:  Always think of the poor!

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