Thursday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
(James 2:1-9; Mark 8:27-33)
In a disturbing book published a few years ago sociologist Charles Murray wrote that the rich are more likely to have Christian values than the poor. That is, they are more likely to go to church, to get married, and to work than their poor counterparts. The report raises the question about how to respond to James’ assertion in today’s first reading that the poor, not the rich, deserve praise.
James is making a sweeping but not inherently unfair generalization. Indeed, the poor are often ignored while the rich receive most people’s admiration. As everyone knows, the rich usually have plenty of money that might be employed for any purpose. The poor on the other are likely to have problems that are hard to deal with. Still the poor are not only created in the image of God, but they also represent Christ, the poor one. James urges that Christians concern themselves with poor people’s needs at least as much as they court the rich for possible favors.
For decades faith based community organizing linked church-goers from well-to-do areas with the inner-city faithful in alliances working for the common good. The results were both tangible and spiritual. Laws were passed that improved community life, and people of all stripes knew one another as colleagues. Sadly many of these coalitions fell apart from the lack of a coherent political vision. Somehow the spirit of the community organizations must be revived to allow the poor to thrive along with the rich in the sight of God.