Listers, Archbishop Chaput once said, “If we don’t love the poor, and do all we can to improve their lot, we’re going to go to Hell.” The following verses are only a sampling of the Holy Scriptures that speak on the Lord’s predilection toward the poor and the Catholic’s mandate to serve the underserved. SPL has several lists that comment on these verses. To further understand the good archbishop’s quote, please read The Poor & Our Salvation: 5 Thoughts. In order to better understand the Scriptural foundation of Catholic Social Teaching, please visit these lists: 14 verses to Understand Catholic Social Teaching and 19 more Scriptures. Though not focused specifically on Holy Scripture, The 7 Themes of Catholic Social Teaching is an excellent primer on understanding the Church’s care for the underserved.

 

Old Testament

You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry. My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword; then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans. If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among my people, you shall not act like an extortioner toward him by demanding interest from him.

Exodus 22:20-24

 

Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow. Then all the people shall say, Amen!

Deuteronomy 27:19

 

Happy those concerned for the lowly and poor; when misfortune strikes, the LORD delivers them. The LORD keeps and preserves them, makes them happy in the land, and does not betray them to their enemies.

Psalm 41:1-3

 

The LORD does righteous deeds, brings justice to all the oppressed. His ways were revealed to Moses, mighty deeds to the people of Israel. Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger, abounding in kindness. God does not always rebuke, nurses no lasting anger, Has not dealt with us as our sins merit, nor requited us as our deeds deserve. As the heavens tower over the earth, so God’s love towers over the faithful. As far as the east is from the west, so far have our sins been removed from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on the faithful. For he knows how we are formed, remembers that we are dust.

Our days are like the grass; like flowers of the field we blossom. The wind sweeps over us and we are gone; our place knows us no more. But the LORD’S kindness is forever, toward the faithful from age to age. He favors the children’s children of those who keep his covenant, who take care to fulfill its precepts.

Psalm 103:6-18

 

Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

Proverbs 14:31

 

Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.

Proverbs 21:13

 

Injure not the poor because they are poor, nor crush the needy at the gate; For the LORD will defend their cause, and will plunder the lives of those who plunder them.

Proverbs 22:22-23

 

Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.

Proverbs 28:27

 

He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.

Proverbs 19:17

 

The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.

Proverbs 29:7

 

Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.

Isaiah 1:17

 

‘He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?’ declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 22:16

 

Thus says the Lord of hosts: Render true judgment, and show kindness and compassion toward each other. Do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the alien or the poor; do not plot evil against one another in your hearts.

Zechariah 7:9-10

 

My son, rob not the poor man of his livelihood; force not the eyes of the needy to turn away. A hungry man grieve not, a needy man anger not; Do not exasperate the downtrodden; delay not to give to the needy. A beggar in distress do not reject; avert not your face from the poor. From the needy turn not your eyes, give no man reason to curse you; For if in the bitterness of his soul he curse you, his Creator will hear his prayer. Endear yourself to the assembly; before a ruler bow your head. Give a hearing to the poor man, and return his greeting with courtesy; Deliver the oppressed from the hand of the oppressor; let not justice be repugnant to you. To the fatherless be as a father, and help their mother as a husband would; Thus will you be like a son to the Most High, and he will be more tender to you than a mother.

Sirach 4:1-10

 

New Testament

And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in:

Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.

Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me. Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.

And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.

Matthew 25:31-46

 

He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.

Luke 1:51-55

 

They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Acts 2:43-47

 

The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.

Acts 4:32-35

 

Cornelius stared at him in fear. ‘What is it, Lord?’ he asked. The angel answered, ‘Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.’

Acts 10:4

 

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James 1:27

 

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

James 2:15-17

 

Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries. Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh like a fire. You have stored up treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter. You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous one; he offers you no resistance. Be patient, therefore, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.

James 5:1-8

 

For more information on serving the poor and underserved please view SPL’s lists The Poor and Catholic Social Teaching.