Adapted from this article by Jim Wallis – http://go.sojo.net/site/MessageViewer?em_id=33461.0&dlv_id=41101
His article adapted from this – http://www.americamagazine.org/pope-interview
American Jim Wallis, of the Sojourners website and author of On God’s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned About Serving the Common Good, reports that, “Suddenly, unexpectedly, and almost miraculously, the values of simplicity, humility, welcome, and the priority of the poor have burst on to the international stage. A new pope named Francis is reminding us that love is also a verb — choosing the name Francis because of his commitment to the poor, to peace, and creation in sharp contrast to the values of Washington, D.C.”
Wallis notes that “the 5th anniversary of the financial collapse… showed more American inequality than before the recession.” He further comments “that from every direction, things that the new pope was saying were breaking through the political news cycle.”
Argentinian Pope Francis, elected earlier this year after the unprecedented retirement of the previous pope, Benedict XVI, says in a recent interview, “How are we treating the people of God? I dream of a church that is a mother and shepherdess. The church’s ministers must be merciful, take responsibility for the people and accompany them like the good Samaritan, who washes, cleans and raises up his neighbor. This is pure Gospel. God is greater than sin. The structural and organizational reforms are secondary—that is, they come afterward. The first reform must be the attitude. The ministers of the Gospel must be people who can warm the hearts of the people, who walk through the dark night with them, who know how to dialogue and to descend themselves into their people’s night, into the darkness, but without getting lost. The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials. The bishops, particularly, must be able to support the movements of God among their people with patience, so that no one is left behind……In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy.”
“The measure of the greatness of a society is found in the way it treats those most in need, those who have nothing apart from their poverty.”
In one of his Tweets, the Pope says, “God will judge us upon how we have treated the most needy.”
Wallis says, “That’s also what the biblical prophets said and held political leaders accountable to.” See Isaiah 58! (Read it below.)
Is there a word that more needs to be heard in Washington today than that one? I couldn’t think of any.
Pope Francis goes deeper to what is behind the indifference prevalent in Western society:
“The culture of comfort, which makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people, makes us live in soap bubbles which, however lovely, are insubstantial; they offer a fleeting and empty illusion which results in indifference to others; indeed, it even leads to the globalization of indifference. In this globalized world, we have fallen into globalized indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it’s none of my business!”
“Today, and it breaks my heart to say it, finding a homeless person who has died of cold, is not news. Today, the news is scandals, that is news, but the many children who don’t have food – that’s not news. This is grave. We can’t rest easy while things are this way.”
Wallis puts this into the American context: “The story that should have been big news was the 5th anniversary of the financial meltdown. I was reading the statistics of whose incomes have grown and whose have not. Since the recession ended, the top 1 percent has captured about 95 percent of income gains. The wealthiest 1 percent of Americans saw their income increase by 31.4 percent from 2009-2012. By contrast, the bottom 99 percent saw their income increase by just 0.4 percent. Behind the statistics, there are always faces — faces that the decision makers in Washington almost never see. The four biggest financial institutions in the country are now 30 percent bigger than they were in 2008 — the same banks that helped to cause the financial meltdown that led to the Great Recession.”
The National Catholic Reporter quotes the the Francis saying:
“While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling. This imbalance results from ideologies which uphold the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and thus deny the right of control to States, which are themselves charged with providing for the common good. A new, invisible and at times virtual tyranny is established, one which unilaterally and irremediably imposes its own laws and rules.”
“Money has to serve, not rule!”
“Not paying fairly, not giving a job because you are only looking at balance sheets, only looking at how to make a profit. That goes against God!”
What should we say? What should the church say? Pope Francis answers, “If investments in banks fall, it is a tragedy and people say ‘what are we going to do?’ but if people die of hunger, have nothing to eat or suffer from poor health, that’s nothing. This is our crisis today. A Church that is poor and for the poor has to fight this mentality.”
How do our politicians learn what their public service role ought to look like? They could listen to Francis: “…. every man, every woman who has to take up the service of government, must ask themselves two questions: ‘Do I love my people in order to serve them better? Am I humble and do I listen to everybody, to diverse opinions in order to choose the best path.’ If you don’t ask those questions, your governance will not be good. The man of woman who governs — who loves his people is a humble man or woman.”
“Wow,” repsonds Wallis. “Those words should bring Washington [and Westminster] to a quiet standstill. Let’s call a retreat for our members of Congress and Senators [and MPs and Lords] just to give them some time to read these words of Pope Francis and have some quiet time to think about them.”
- Thurrock Foodbank – http://thurrock.foodbank.org.uk/
- The Besom in Thurrock – http://www.besom.com/local-besoms/thurrock and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AP38QrFX4x0
- Thurrock Lunch Club – http://www.thurrocklunch.co.uk/
New International Version
1 ‘Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
2 For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
3 “Why have we fasted,” they say,
“and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?”
‘Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarrelling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 ‘Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter –
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: here am I.
‘If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
Your Prayers Won’t Get Off the Ground
1-3 “Shout! A full-throated shout!
Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout!
Tell my people what’s wrong with their lives,
face my family Jacob with their sins!
They’re busy, busy, busy at worship,
and love studying all about me.
To all appearances they’re a nation of right-living people—
They ask me, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’
and love having me on their side.
But they also complain,
‘Why do we fast and you don’t look our way?
Why do we humble ourselves and you don’t even notice?’
3-5 “Well, here’s why:
“The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit.
You drive your employees much too hard.
You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight.
You fast, but you swing a mean fist.
The kind of fasting you do
won’t get your prayers off the ground.
Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after:
a day to show off humility?
To put on a pious long face
and parade around solemnly in black?
Do you call that fasting,
a fast day that I, God, would like?
6-9 “This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’
A Full Life in the Emptiest of Places
9-12 “If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again.