“Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you? And the lord said: Whatever you did for the least of my brothers and sisters you did for me.” — Matthew 25:37 - 40
I have been very confused by my reactions to both my parish and community’s reaction to sponsoring refugees. Our parish priest actually had to instruct people to stop raising money!
I am pretty sure that is a first.
At least three different groups within my relatively small community are sponsoring refugees.
Why am I so angry, frustrated and despondent? Is this not a sign of people’s good hearts?
Why is my heart heavy? My sense of hope shattered?
I had to summon every ounce of willpower (while eating my way through my pantry) to force myself to move forward with this year’s Development and Peace Share Lent Campaign.
All the way I was fighting my soul’s sense of “what’s the use?”
Don’t get me wrong — I like the campaign.
It is based on Laudato Si’ and our need for an integral ecology.
It opens the door for our reflecting on the inter-connections of all things including how our dominant mode of development is generating environmental devastation, poverty, war, terrorism and the most refugees ever in the world.
We passed the number generated by the Second World War.
The sense that kept and keeps overwhelming me is that . . . yes, people care . . . but so few are inclined or able to take the time to do the work to unpack why we are in the midst of the most serious existential threat — ever!
The environmental devastation, wars, human-generated climate chaos and refugees are but a few indicators our dominant mode of development is killing us — in so many ways, on so many levels, including spiritually.
Talk about a culture of death!
All cultures are social constructs or ways of making sense of ourselves and our worlds.
“Social” means “human created.”
This is not the doing of the Divine as some would have us believe.
The mess we are in is the result of human decisions — whether consciously made with all outcomes intended or not.
Unlike some of our Christian brothers and sisters, Catholic teaching is that no one, and definitely not the Divine, is coming to save us. Pope Benedict XVI was clear on that.
Catholic teaching is that:
· our Divine Beloved gave us free will;
· Jesus came to “save us” and show us “the Way” is one of love and compassion; and
· Spirit is always available to inspire and guide us if we just open to her while doing the work to unpack how we got ourselves into such a mess.
While nursing my bruised ego from totally messing up a mass announcement about Share Lent and trying to avoid going out in the rain, I happened upon a Dec. 27, 2015, CBC Sunday Edition interview with American Evangelical theologian and writer Jim Wallis.
He and Enright were discussing Wallis’ 2014 book The (Un) Common Good: How the Gospel Brings Hope to A Divided World. I highly recommend it if your soul is hurting.
Wallis kept returning to Matthew 25.
And I got to thinking . . . what if Matthew 25: 37 - 40 were put together with Amos 5:24, where justice/righteousness flows like a river?
What if — while feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and sponsoring refugees — we were also engaging to transform the root causes generating the hungry, naked, homeless and refugees?
American theologian and writer Marcus Borg states all references to justice/righteousness in our scriptures refer to social/economic — and now, ecological — justice for all.
Wallis states there are over 2,000 such references.
What if Christians were once again a threat to the established social order as they were in the first few centuries of their existence — before it was institutionalized as the religion of empire?
What if the bishops and official “church-dom” actually prioritized training our priests and giving us the resources so we, through participating with the Divine, could engage our culture of death to transform it to a variety of cultures of life . . . where all Creation has life with dignity?
What if we got away from “magical thinking” and once again understood “liturgy” to mean participation of the faithful in “sacred work”; in the work of the Divine to ensure “justice flows like a river” from our social structures . . . rather than refugees, climate chaos, fear and hatred?
How will Easter, the birthing anew of cultures of life, ever happen without such a prioritizing?
An educator, writer and engaged citizen living in Qualicum Beach, B.C., Zarowny is also on the leadership team for her parish’s Justice and Life Ministry.