Very simply, it would be easy to discount this as a non issue and claim that these events are not related, these are separate unrelated issues and that as Catholic Christians, we should just keep on praying, and praying, and praying...hoping, and hoping...
For over two thousand years, the Church has put in tremendous efforts to relate the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, to human life...to bring the Word of God back to the people...to transform individual human hearts, liberating them from the evil seduction of the secular world.
In preservation of basic human dignity, the Church sees that all people are sacred...made in the image of God. As pilgrims all over the world, we are all bound together in a common humanity.
Jesus himself identified with the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized...offering them the hope of the Kingdom of God...eternal life. Conversely, Jesus demanded love of enemies and renunciation of violence. Jesus stood for human freedom...the freedom of love and goodness...freedom from the slavery of sin...a freedom experienced by the people when God is sovereign...the relation to God’s will is right.
Jesus was not a revolutionary social reformer, nor fanatical about the political powers that be...the corrupted Romans! Jesus never intended to spill the blood of his enemies...instead He simply allowed himself to be crucified by the Romans...spilling his own Holy and Precious Blood for the love of mankind.
Although the Church believes that religion belongs at the center of everything, Father Thomas Bokenkotter adds that, “...it is not enough just to mouth pretty words about justice and peace in the pulpit. The message must be put into action.”
As pilgrims on the journey back home, we are called to be doers of the Word and not just hearers only...we are called to be genuine and authentic witnesses to Jesus Christ in all that we do along our short journey through life.
Father Thomas continues to add that, “The Church commits itself to the work of social change and the struggle against all forms of oppression. ...What is at stake is nothing less than the redemption of the human race.”
Along these lines, we recall the famous words of Blessed John Paul II,“(a) world of justice and peace cannot be created by words alone and it cannot be imposed by outside forces: it must be desired and must come about through the contribution of all. It is essential for every human being to have a sense of participating, of being a part of the decisions and endeavors that shape the destiny of the world.”
These extract from the beautiful document, Justicia in Mundo (Justice in the World), at the Synod of Bishops (1971), further echoes very clearly...
“Unless the Christian message of love and justice shows its effectiveness through action in the cause of justice in the world, it will only with difficulty gain credibility with the people of our times. (#35)
The Church, indeed, is not alone responsible for justice in the world; however, she has a proper and specific responsibility which is identified with her mission of giving witness before the world of the need for love and justice contained in the Gospel message, a witness to be carried out in Church institutions themselves and in the lives of Christians. (#36)
Our mission demands that we should courageously denounce injustice, with charity, prudence and firmness, in sincere dialogue with all parties concerned. We know that our denunciations can secure assent to the extent that they are an expression of our lives and are manifested in continuous action. (#57)”
Looking at what is happening around the world today...injustices continue to disfigure our land and age...the people continue their constant silent struggle...towards a life that is founded on real spiritual and moral values, justice, integrity and freedom. The Church simply cannot be seen as remaining silent and distant.
Pilgrims must be able to connect biblical teachings and most importantly, experience these teachings to their own journey; be it in their everyday lives or at work. The moment this vision becomes blurred, our simple journey becomes much more challenging, distracting and complicated...not to mention, our faith being put to the test vis-à-vis basic human rights.
Blessed Pope John XXIII in his encyclical, Pacem in Terris, Peace on Earth (1963), calls these rights “inalienable” and “inviolable” rights. The source of these rights – they are natural rights which flow from the very nature of humankind. The ultimate foundation of human rights is God.
Furthermore, the mystery of human solidarity and interdependence is such that whenever one human being is made to suffer, the rest of humanity simply suffers too and is weakened and threatened at the same time.
The assassinated Most Reverend Oscar Anulfo Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, reminds us that...
“The Church would betray its own love for God and its fidelity to the Gospel if it stopped being…a defender of the rights of the poor…a humaniser of every legitimate struggle to achieve a more just society...that prepares the way for the true reign of God in history.”
Amidst the distracting noises and cries of the world, let us also quiet our hearts and not forget the sublime words of St Teresa of Avila...
“Christ has no body but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.”
Are we listening to what the Holy Spirit is whispering to us today, as disciples of Jesus Christ?
As faithful pilgrims, we can only pray that the awesome power of the Holy Spirit will touch the hearts of the leaders so that truth, faith, freedom and justice will courageously prevail on July 18 at Castel Gondolfo. Veni Sancte Spiritus!