Mainstream and marginalized PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 05 January 2016 15:19



We all make distinctions from time to time. We do them for us to know things better, and especially to know how we can cope with them. We like to know the different parts, components, aspects, levels, etc., of things so we can handle them better or fairly.

We just have to make sure that the distinctions we make do not fragmentize the whole but rather strengthen it, are not divisive but unifying, not destructive but constructive, not discriminatory but discriminating.

We analyze things, breaking them up into their different parts, in order to synthesize them again later on, and even to come up with a new thing as we get to know more about the potentials of the different parts.

So there’s virtue in making distinctions. A biblical basis for this could be what St. Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians: “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body.

“And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. ‘If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?’” (14-17)

We just have to make sure that while we treat the different parts differently, according to their respective nature and function, they should not be made to conflict with each other.

Thus, we should avoid making the distinctions an occasion for conflicts to arise among the different parts.

In the Bible, this is clearly illustrated. “Show no partiality as you hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ…For if a man with gold rings and in fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man is shabby clothing also comes in, and you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, ‘Have a seat here, please,’ while you say to the poor man, ‘Stand there,’ or, ‘Sit at the my feet,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?” (James 2,1-4)

In all this talk about reaching out to the marginalized, we should not antagonize those considered in the mainstream. Everyone actually belongs to the same family of God and has the same dignity and vocation.

We should try to acknowledge their differences according to our human categories, be it social, economic, political, etc. They could be in the mainstream or the marginalized, lefty or righty, liberal or conservative, rich or poor. But we just have to try to put them together to work for the good of all.

The secret to all this is to infuse our efforts with the ultimate motive which is none other than God’s love for all of us. This is the only kind of love that is universal though it gives a certain special attention to those who have strayed from God. It’s that part of God’s love which is called mercy.

This is only possible if we try our best, always with God’s grace, of course, to make ourselves another, ‘alter Christus,’ as we are meant to be. When we have the mind and heart of Christ, we can acknowledge the differences among us and at the same time, we can also transcend them so as to unify everyone into one family of God, breathing in love.

As a biblical basis for this, we can cite St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians. “For as many of you as were baptized in Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (3,27-28)

This point is reiterated in his letter to the Colossians. “Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all.” (3,11)

We have to realize then that this preferential option for the poor in this Year of Mercy has to be understood more in the spiritual and supernatural sense than in the merely human sense defined simply in social, political or economic terms.

Thus, more than just doing corporal works of mercy, what is more important and is, in fact, indispensable, is to do the spiritual works of mercy. These two sets of works of mercy should go hand in hand.