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Center for Action and Contemplation

Hebrew Scriptures: Preferential Option for the Poor: Weekly Summary

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Hebrew Scriptures: Preferential Option for the Poor

Summary: Sunday, February 22–Friday, February 27, 2015

One of the great themes of the Bible, which begins in the Hebrew Scriptures and is continued in Jesus, is the preferential option for the poor, or the bias from the bottom. (Sunday)

Some form of the Right is necessary for order and continuity in a culture, and some form of the Left is necessary for truth and reform in a culture. (Monday)

The Bible is most extraordinary because it repeatedly and invariably legitimizes the people on the bottom, and not the people on the top. (Tuesday)

Most of the people who have ever lived on this planet have been oppressed and poor. But their history was seldom written, except in the Bible. (Wednesday)

One of the most transformative experiences is entering into some form of lifestyle solidarity with the powerless. This is what changes you. (Thursday)

Only converted people, who are in union both with the pain of the world and the love of God, are prepared to read the Bible with the right pair of eyes. (Friday)

Practice: Standing in Solidarity

Tim Shriver, Chair of Special Olympics, wrote about this week’s theme in a recent CAC newsletter. As you read his words, imagine how you might stand in solidarity with someone “on the edge,” someone who has been excluded, and see that individual through God’s eyes. (Tim will be joining me at CAC’s CONSPIRE 2015 conference.)

Throughout Scripture there is a call for social justice—meaning social equality, inclusion of those on the edge. It is a deeply spiritual call, and yet it has a powerful and important political function. . . . Those on the edge hold the key to healing and uniting the whole system. To unite with those who are the most vulnerable, the most excluded, is the critical social dimension of unitive consciousness and community.

You cannot believe in or practice unitive consciousness as long as you exclude and marginalize others—whether it is women or people of different sexual orientations or people of religious or ethnic minorities or, in my experience, people with intellectual disabilities.

For 20 years I have been mentored by these same people. Some might not be the best-spoken, the most articulate writers, the most celebrated thinkers, the fastest runners. And yet, despite all of that, I have met person after person who emanates a kind of radiant light. After a while, even the densest of us may have our eyes opened to that something which transcends all superficial distractions of disability: the unimaginable beauty of every person. That beauty is ours for the seeing if only we have the eyes to see, if only we pay attention.

Many times I’ve watched, for instance, as a person with Down syndrome stands with a gold medal around her neck, arms raised high to a cheering crowd. I can’t look at that child, at that human being, without slipping out of dualistic thinking. Those moments are a kind of sacrament of unitive consciousness. They are “both-and” moments where shadow and light coexist in the same experience. . . . Divine energy shoots vertically through me like a force, and says, “See! Look! Pay attention to what is right in front of you! That is all you need to know!”

Gateway to Silence:
God hears the cry of the poor.

Excerpted from “Ripples in the World: CAC Multipliers,” the Mendicant, July 2014, Vol. 4, No. 4

For Further Study:
Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer
Gospel Call for Compassionate Action (Bias from the Bottom) in CAC Foundation Set (CD and MP3 download)
Scripture as Liberation (MP3 download)

Image credit: Family homes on former Juarez dump, Juarez Mexico, CAC archives.
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