20 – The poor are the flesh of Christ; and poverty is a theological category

Love for the poor is no novelty within the Church of Christ, although some try to present it as a recent innovation, something that sprung up in the past few years…In fact, it was the Church that multiplied beneficient works all over the world, often in face of severe criticism from the pagans who, in their hedonistic perspective, scoffed at the followers of Christ. But, Christians always persevered in following the example of the Divine Redeemer, who gave us the example to follow and left us that divine law of charity: we should encounter the image of Christ Himself in those who suffer!

Nonetheless, the divine call toward conversion was directed to all, rich or poor; and the kind of poverty that merited the title of ‘beatitude’ was poverty of the spirit, consisting in detachment from the things of the world and in humility.

So, when faced with certain biased outlooks, we just might ask: Are there poor people who are actually rich in spirit? Do there exist rich people who are detached from their goods? Is the ‘option for the poor’ exclusive and excluding? Further, if the idea of the ‘flesh of Christ’ has a relationship with the Mystical Body, is the poverty of the peripheries what makes a person part of this Body?

As always, the Magisterium luminously teaches us all. Let’s have alook at what the Mystical Body of Christ is, and who its true members are.


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Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter in the various parts of our study


I: Is care for the poor something new? Are riches evil in themselves?
II: What is the Mystical Body of Christ? Why does the Church evangelize?



I: Is care for the poor something new? Are riches evil in themselves?

John Paul II

Love for the poor is not something new: the whole tradition of the Church bears witness to the exercise of Christian charity

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Jesus came to call to conversion including the rich – the poverty He declared blessed is made up of detachment

Sacred Scripture

Prov 14:31
Gal 2:10
Rom 2:11
Wis 6:7

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Word speaks of voluntary humility as ‘poverty in spirit’


Erroneous and heretical: to declare that Jesus Christ and His apostles did not possess anything either in particular or even in common

Saint Augustine of Hippo

The Lord chose both the rich and the poor

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Preference given to the poor, without exclusion


The preferential option for the poor is neither exclusive nor excluding
True human promotion cannot be reduced to particular aspects

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

The temptation to reduce the Gospel to an earthly gospel
Option for the poor: far from being a sign of particularism – cannot be expressed by reductive sociological and ideological categories

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

Man’s horizons are not limited only to the temporal order


Virtue: common inheritance of men, within the reach of the rich and poor
The two classes should dwell in harmony. A great mistake: that one class is naturally hostile to another

Saint Ambrose

Not all the poor are blessed
Not all poverty is holy, nor is all richness criminal
Riches may be a hindrance for the evil; or a great help for virtue in the good

Saint Augustine of Hippo

Amongst the number of the rich are counted those who, without riches, are caught up in the desire to have them

Saint Clement of Alexandria

The abundance of necessary things keeps the soul free, capable of making good use of what is at hand

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Riches are good if they advance the practice of virtue; poverty is praiseworthy if it frees from vices
Poverty and riches are not to be judged evil in themselves; the use of them may be evil

Saint John Chrysostom

I blame not those who have houses, and lands, and wealth: be masters and not slaves of your riches

II: What is the Mystical Body of Christ? Why does the Church evangelize?

Sacred Scripture

The Word became flesh; from his fullness we have all received
To be clothed with Christ, one must be baptized
Christ is the head of the Body

Gregory the Great

Christ took the Church to Himself, and forms with Her one mystical Person

Saint Augustine of Hippo

We are made Christ; if He is the head we are the members


At His baptism Christ was pleased to prefigure His Church

Catechism of the Catholic Church

One participates in the grace of Christ by Baptism

Saint Thomas Aquinas

The sacraments of the Church bestow us with the virtue of Christ’s Passion
The members form one mystic person with the Head, Christ

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

The life of Christ is imparted to His Body through the sacraments

Pius XII

Those who are divided in faith or government cannot live in the unity of the Mystical Body, nor receive the life of the Spirit


The Church: common Mother of rich and poor, whose patrimony is guarded as inheritance of the poor

Pius IX

Charity is especially to bring those in error back to the Mystical Body of the Church

Benedict XVI

The Word became man so that man might become a son of God

Paul VI

The Church will evangelize the world primarily by her fidelity to the Lord Jesus, by the witness of sanctity

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