God’s commitment to justice, to restoring people to right relationship in community, continues as a theme in the Christian scripture and, likewise, serves as a foundation for Catholic social teaching. The Option for the Poor and Vulnerable is a theme highlighted even before Jesus emerges from Mary’s womb.
In her song of praise, shortly after learning that she was pregnant, Mary reiterates God’s favor for the poor, in continuity with God’s promises dating back to Abraham:He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever. (Luke 51-55).
These words are reminiscent of Hannah’s hymn of praise as she rejoices at the birth of her son, Samuel, whom she dedicates to God:My heart exults in the Lord, my horn is exalted in my God. … The bows of the mighty are broken, While the tottering gird on strength, The well-fed hire themselves out for bread, While the hungry batten on spoil. … He raises the needy from the dust; from the ash heap he lifts up the poor, To set them with nobles And make a glorious throne their heritage.” (1 Samuel 1, 4-5, 8)
Scripture is consistent in its call to justice: the advent of Jesus of Nazareth opens a new chapter in the proclamation of this message.
Submitted by: N. Rademacher, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Religious Studies
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition© 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.