In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus proclaims that he has been anointed “to bring good news to the poor” (4:16-21). In the story of the last judgment, we are told that we will be judged according to how we respond to the “least” ones (Mt 25.31-46).
Catholic social teaching is grounded in the conviction that every person has essential dignity that must be respected and guarded. It asks us to give “preferential option” to the poor and vulnerable. We must read the word option as a verb, to choose to view the world from the perspective of the poor and work for justice.
Many parishes and high schools require “service hours” of their confirmation and graduation candidates. These requirements give young people practice in looking for ways to help others and make a difference for good in our world. It’s training in Christian discipleship.
Service experiences often bring us face-to-face with the marginalized. Once we can connect a real person to an unjust reality, we are motivated to work for social change: create conditions for marginalized voices to be heard, defend the defenseless, and assess lifestyles, policies and social institutions in terms of their impact on the poor.
I’ve selected a video clip from the story segment of the Catholic Update Video
“Sealed With God’s Spirit: Teen Discipleship
” to share with you (RealMedia
| Windows Media
). Show this story of high-school teens on a mission trip to young people as they prepare for their own service work.
Service is not just for our youth. We are all called to care for the poor and vulnerable. Young people, with their idealism still intact, often inspire adults to do more. Invite parishioners of all ages to explore the Christian call to service and provide them with opportunities for outreach.