Because there is a poverty that comes with privilege.
I will tell you that the poor are not automatically virtuous or attractive; I will tell you that middle-class comfort can also give rise to goodness and holiness and justice. But the poorest among us lay claim to Christ’s presence, and saint after saint has found Him there, in them.
Why the preferential option? What is this preferential option?
But what she said was, “I don’t know if I’ve succeeded yet.”
Were she poor, were she dropping out of school, were she waiting for her baby daddy to get out of jail… she’d know. She’d know “success” - at least in the mythical, shining, everything-will-be-alright sense that we can’t rid ourselves of – is beyond her. It’s beyond any of us.
Here’s what I see. I go in to work in the centre of the city. I go to church in the affluent suburbs. When things are going well for me, when I live in a comfortable, clean home, when my pantry is stocked and my bank account has a buffer, and when my yard is neatened, I look around me, and all is in order. Yet in the middle of this order, I hear something different in my heart. There’s this insistent voice, that I don’t want to pay attention to, who says, “In here, you’re broken. You’re wounded. You’re incomplete. You’re not OK with how things are going,” and things seem to be going fine.
In other words, I experience an interior brokenness that does not match my exterior fullness. It doesn’t fit. It makes me think I must be inventing something: how could I be discontent? How could I be restless? I have it pretty good, after all. It must be, if I can admit it, that there is something wrong with me, and if all my creature comforts can’t fix it… I might not be fixable.
I can’t let myself bring this up, though, or explore this dissatisfaction, because to do so would be to bring up brokenness and introduce it into an otherwise beautiful life.
Who wants to bleed all over an immaculate and disinfected kitchen floor?
And so I believe that privilege has little space to express our deepest desires and confess our inner brokenness. Our default is to pretend the gleaming perfection runs all the way down to the bottom of our soul; blind ourselves the shadows beneath where we’re willing to look. We end up shallow.
The poor don’t want to explore the deep unfulfilled longing within any more than this rich white guy does. But if you’re in a noisy group home, or you’ve been too busy raising your siblings to go to school, or you’ve got a shoestring holding up your oversized pants, you might as well let ‘er rip. Honestly, go ahead and scream and punch and knock something over. Or barge into Starbucks yelling and smelling, or show me your rotted-out teeth, or ask for change so you can get high – you might as well. One thing you won’t feel like doing when life is shitty is pretend everything’s fine, that you’re OK with how things are going. That you need nothing.
When Christ came to the poor, he found them the most ready for him. I think this is why.
I think this is the privilege that comes with poverty, a redemption of suffering most visible.
…save a wretch like me…