Starting Point
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Issue Date:  January 27, 2006

Starting Point


I’ve been watching “The Wizard of Oz” with my children. We all know the story. Dorothy, trying to find her way home, befriends three motley fellows who are all seeking something to make themselves whole. The Scarecrow is looking for a brain, the Tin Man a heart and the Lion courage. The Kingdom of Oz is their destination. There, they believe, they can find what they need to be complete.

Jesus, while walking the dusty roads of Galilee, also made friends with a ragtag cast of characters. In fact, he sought them out. It is only by walking with the marginalized, Jesus told us, that we can reach his kingdom. And only there will we feel truly at home. Knowing the poor, however we do that, puts us closer to that which Jesus spoke of. The needy will show us the elasticity of the human heart, the potential of the brain for human agency, and the courage needed to walk this untrodden path. Treat the weak justly, we were told, and the kingdom will begin to manifest itself. Love and compassion makes it visible. When we’re paying attention we can see glimpses of what it will look like.

Dorothy and her newly found friends soon discover that they can only obtain what they desire by sticking together. They recognize their need for each other. A solidarity develops among them. They become genuinely interested in each other’s well-being and fulfillment. When the going gets tough, and dark forces threaten to strike, they carry each other along with encouragement and affection. Either they all make it to land of Oz or none of them do.

We also need each other. Neither individuals nor nations, it seems, can walk alone if wholeness and peace are desired. And like Dorothy, we won’t find our way home if we ignore the less fortunate along the way. Only with them can we become a people living in the fullness God intended. For it is just treatment of the poor that sets us right and hallows the road we travel.

Mark Graceffo is a librarian at St. Peter’s College in Jersey City, N.J.

National Catholic Reporter, January 27, 2006

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