An blog by a member of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, to explore the nexus between contemplation and resistance. "The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Fate of the Just




Everyone who recognizes the central place of sedakah (justice) in being a follower of Jesus Christ sooner or later has to face the limits of moral exhortation. The pope will give many moral exhortations here in America, and these speeches will exude his well-deserved reputation for bringing a richness and creativity to traditional practices and beliefs for which he is justly renowned. But the chance that this will change anything fundamental in the catastrophic injustices into which the ruling elite has plunged this world is practically nil. Long ago a bargain was struck between the rulers of this world and the Church and each carved off their sphere of operation. The Church promised to confine herself to "spiritual" matters, to matters of "personal belief", while the material powers of this world were freed to pursue the affairs of Caesar in the ways that best suited Caesar.

But the Bible proclaims a different relationship between God and the world, "It is God's gift to humankind that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil." - Ecclesiastes 3:13

In other words, God cares for his children in their worldly reality - He is not confined to a "heaven" which never dirties its hands with the physical needs of his people.

But the Antichrist operates by different principles: "The only surprising thing about the global food crisis to Jim Goodman is the notion that anyone finds it surprising. 'So,' says the Wisconsin dairy farmer, 'they finally figured out, after all these years of pushing globalization and genetically modified [GM] seeds, that instead of feeding the world we’ve created a food system that leaves more people hungry. If they’d listened to farmers instead of corporations, they would’ve known this was going to happen.'" - John Nichols, "The World Food Crisis"

The way of truth makes hearts, not profits, grow rich. St. Basil proclaims, "When some one strips a man of his clothes we call him a thief. And one who might clothe the naked and does not - should not he be given the same name? The bread in your hoard belongs to the hungry; the cloak in your wardrobe belongs to the naked; the shoes you let rot belong to the barefoot; the money in your vaults belongs to the destitute. All you might help and do not - to all these you are doing wrong."

"The current global food system, which was designed by US-based agribusiness conglomerates like Cargill, Monsanto and ADM and forced into place by the US government and its allies at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization, has planted the seeds of disaster by pressuring farmers here and abroad to produce cash crops for export and alternative fuels rather than grow healthy food for local consumption and regional stability." - John Nichols, "The World Food Crisis"

"'Not enough world for need and greed.' An old saying of Peter Maurin newly verified, as indeed the world proves not big enough, not rich enough, to bear the burden of bodily hunger and cupidity of spirit.

We had always thought there was enough, water enough, air and land enough, minerals enough, food enough, America enough, world enough.

Or at least those in possession thought so; for the others the question really did not signify anything. The earth was ours; for them, was not heaven enough?" - Daniel Berrigan, "Uncommon Prayer"

Such is the heaven we offer the hungry. Our profits depend on our ability to manage hunger, to tune it to the proper intensity for maximum profits without incurring the risk of food riots. It now appears that hunger management system known as global capitalism has allowed success to blind itself, to succumb to its own cynical myth and reach for its ultimate conclusion - to believe in the growth of greed.

But none of this changes Christ, who spoke through Peter Maurin when he said, "The coat that hangs in the closet belongs to the poor." Break open your hands, your minds, and your hearts, America, for the game is up and greed has lost itself in the blindness of its own intoxication. Purge the poison you have injected into the poor and be healed of your riches.

Listen to those who held Christ closest, "Riches impoverish and kill the soul; they make a man cruel toward himself; they make him finite and dispossess him of the dignity of the infinite, for his desire, which should be united with [the] infinite Good, has been set on a finite thing and lovingly united with that." - St. Catherine of Siena.

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