Father Jon Pedigo
Director of Peace and Justice Projects, Dioses of San Jose
Being a disciple of Christ requires a willingness to put others first. If we wish to be his disciple, we must be ready to embrace the leper, protect the widow and orphan, and love our enemy. The disciple must be able to identify with, understand and appreciate the hardships of those who are in fact poor. Our Christian faith demands that we take on the cross of responsibility for our neighbor and identify, embrace and ultimately advocate for those who are the poorest of the poor. We must embrace our neighbor as one of our own.
Jesus asks a fundamental question of us: will we be able to take responsibility for our poor neighbors? Real discipleship requires a conscious decision to participate in the work of creating a new world organized around the concept of equality.
We live in a world where many people suffer violence and extreme poverty and yet we do not see them. We live in a world that is divided, where those of us who are privileged are shielded from seeing the hardships that other people endure. Our faith calls us to take the time to hear, see and feel the world of our neighbor. Pope Francis said, “Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society.”
Each day is an opportunity for us to pay attention to the cry of the working poor, to pay attention to their voice and to come to their assistance. We must hear their story and be moved to action. I am asking that you consider the power of participating in the democratic franchise of voting. I will not tell you how to vote, but I simply ask that you consider how your vote will help our sister or brother.
This year we have many issues to think about. Our community may be asking us to consider how we will deal with affordable housing. In Santa Clara County, Measure A, if it passes, will build thousands of dwellings—hogares—for our homeless neighbors, for veterans, low-income seniors and victims of violence and abuse. Remember, “Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless.”
When we vote next month, we must ask ourselves, “how will my choice help alleviate the suffering of the poor?” We need to take our right to vote seriously, to study the issues, make righteous choices and ensure that the poor and homeless are in our hearts, our prayers and our votes.