by Bob Wickizer

God’s Preferential Option for the Poor
Bob Wickizer
Amos 8:1-12; Psalm 52; Colossians 1:15-28; Luke 10:38-42

I want to join together two ideas: First, the idea of baptism as initiation into Christian life. Second, what does Christian life mean? In the process we will also address God’s “preferential option for the poor.”

Baptism is one of only two sacraments we find in the Bible. Although one place in the baptism liturgy talks about “cleansing from sins” the more modern notion we have recovered from the earliest days of the church holds that baptism is death and rebirth in Christ.

The water of baptism represents chaos and the sin we find in the world so that baptism involves an act of immersing a person into the sin of the world and then emerging from the waters with new life in Christ. The baptism ritual involves death and rebirth emerging OUT OF the sin of the world INTO new life in Christ.

The second ritual component of baptism involves “chrismation” or the marking of the sign of the cross on the forehead. The idea of baptism as a Christening or naming service comes from this action. The important thing to remember is that “You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ’s own for ever.” What does this mean?

Simply put, this is a public acknowledgement that God loves you, you (or your sponsors) love God and you will love others as a result. But now that we acknowledge God’s love and pledge to love others, what do we do? How should we live?

The answer rings across thousands of years of scripture and culture – God wants us to live so that the least powerful in our society are better off, receive mercy, have dignity and do not suffer. We are to live so that the least among us are better off.

God’s preferential option for the poor can be found throughout the Hebrew Bible including the passage from Amos today telling the Israelites that they “sell the poor for silver and the needy for a a pair of sandals. The la ...

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