Do you remember a time as a child when they were choosing up teams for a game of kickball? Maybe you were chosen first. Maybe you were chosen last. Or maybe you were chosen somewhere in the middle. Do you remember the feeling in the pit of your stomach–part anticipation and part dread – “Choose me, choose me!” Or depending on the circumstance, “Don’t pick me. Please don’t pick me.”
Then later in life you may have met the person of your dreams and at some point you said, “I choose you.” And the other responded, “I choose you, too.”
As humans born in the image and likeness of God, God says to us even before we are born, “I choose you. I love you with an everlasting love. You are my child. You are my friend.” And there are moments in our lives when we listen to that voice and find ourselves broken open by God’s love. In those moments of grace when we are overwhelmed by God’s complete unconditional love for us, we can respond, “I choose you.”
Because God loved us first, we then are empowered to love God, to love ourselves and to love our neighbor. What an abundant gift we have been given – the gift of life and the gift of the ability to love.
When we reach out to our neighbor in need, we in effect say to that person, “I see you. I hear you. I choose you.” When our neighbors need more help than we can give individually, as a church we have Catholic Charities, the social service and social justice arm of the church, to provide professional help to alleviate, prevent, and reduce the challenges caused by poverty. When we donate to feed a hungry senior or advocate for a homeless senior to obtain affordable housing, we choose life for that senior. When we volunteer to tutor a child in an afterschool program, we choose a new life for that child. When we host a refugee foster youth, we choose life for that youth. The church’s teaching on the “preferential option for the poor” is simply saying that we are called to choose first to help our neighbors in need. In so doing, we become the hands and feet of God in the world, as through us, God says to those who are poor and suffering, “I choose you.”
To choose to help those in need in our own community, go to www.CatholicCharitiesSCC.org.