Tag Archives: oppression

taking the bone away from a dog

People who love soft words and hate iniquity forget this, that reform consists in taking the bone away from a dog. Philosophy will not do this. — John Jay Chapman

There are times when I have to remind myself that I need to take a deep breath and move more slowly. But, then there are other times when my frustration at the lack of of caring and compassion I see around me almost drives me into despair.

Nowhere is this more true than in the church. Platitudes and prayers for the poor and oppressed flow from our lips in unending streams as long as we are well hidden behind our stained-glass fences. But once we go through the gate into the street all we can say is “good doggie.”

All of us daily pass by the big dogs cracking the bones of the poor. It’s not as if we don’t see the iniquity that crushes the oppressed in our midst. But, soft, smooth words whispered in a sanctuary are both safe and respectable. Attempting to take that bone away might mean stitches.

The hungry will never get fed, the poor will never get justice, until we care enough, until we love enough, to start taking the bones away from the dogs. When will we be faithful enough that we hunger more for justice than respectability? When will our love for each other trump our love for safety and ease? When will the headlines finally read “Man Takes Bone Away From Dog”?

a prayer for those in greatest need

God of grace and God of glory, we pause this morning to offer you praise and thanks for the truly awesome creation we call home. We cannot begin to fathom love so deep that you would send you only son to make sure we remained in a perfect relationship with you. Thank you for such love. Thank you for such mercy. Thank you for such grace. Help us to live in that love, Help us to walk in that mercy. And help us to share that grace with all those we meet.

Let each moment of our lives reflect to those around us the same love you have given so freely to us. May every day of our lives bring us ever closer to you. And may those in greatest need, those who feel most alone, those whose hunger is the deepest, those who are most oppressed, those who have nowhere left to run or nowhere left to hide, those who you loved enough to allow your son to die for, may each  one of them feel your presence in a special way this morning. 

And may your presence so move us this morning that we would seek out those we know are in need. Allow us to be your love incarnate to bathe the dirty, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and shelter the homeless, and above all, forgive us our indifference and lack of compassion, and  grant us the grace to simply be your disciples in a broken world. In your son’s name, Amen.

Pope Francis does the right thing

 

The following article is reprinted in its entirety from Huff Post Religion.

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) – Pope Francis opened the way Monday to a quick beatification for Oscar Romero, saying there are no more doctrinal problems blocking the process for the slain Salvadoran archbishop who is one of the heroes of the liberation theology movement in Latin America.

Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador, was gunned down in 1980 while celebrating Mass. He had spoken out against repression by the Salvadoran army at the beginning of the country’s 1980-1992 civil war between the right-wing government and leftist rebels.

Francis told journalists traveling home from South Korea that Romero’s case had previously been “blocked out of prudence” by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith but has now been “unblocked.” He said the case had passed to the Vatican’s saint-making office.

  The congregation launched a crackdown on liberation theology under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, fearing what was deemed as Marxist s excesses. The movement holds the view that Jesus’ teachings imbue followers with a duty to fight for social and economic justice.

Francis said of Romero’s case that “it is important to do it quickly,” but that the investigation must take its course.

He declared that Romero “was a man of God” and suggested that he wanted to expand the church’s concept of martyrdom to include a broader field of candidates.

Unlike regular candidates for beatification, martyrs can reach the first step to possible sainthood without a miracle attributed to their intercession. A miracle is needed for canonization, however.

Traditionally, the church has restricted the martyr designation to people who were killed out of hatred for the Catholic faith. Francis said he wanted theologians to study whether those who were killed because of their actions doing God’s work could also be considered martyrs.

“What I would like is that they clarify when there’s a martyrdom for hatred of the faith – for confessing the faith – as well as for doing the work for the other that Jesus commands,” Francis said.

Questions over that distinction have been at the root of the theological debate over whether Romero was killed by El Salvador’s right-wing death squads for professing the faith or because of his political activism in support of the poor.

Readers of this blog know my feelings about spirituality and standing alongside the poor. You also know how often I quote the words of the martyred Oscar Romero.

The archbishop of El Salvador was living out his witness during the early years of my ministry, and his deep faithfulness was a strong inspiration to me that we can make a real difference in the world. His words still continue to make me want to live more faithfully on behalf of the poor and hungry. And for me, well, that’s enough for sainthood.

Oscar Romero lived and died faithfully, and he demonstrated that faithfulness by his unwavering support and solidarity with the poor and oppressed. Thank you, Pope Francis for recognizing a man of true faith.

make us aware

Lord,

Make us aware of how much we, at times, benefit from the oppression of others. We seek our bargains at department stores without ever asking if those bargains were made possible by children laboring for a pittance in some dingy sweat shop, or by some women working for starvation wages in a Third World country.

Lord, help us realize that the beef we eat may have been raised on land that was once a rain forest home for natives in Brazil or Belize; and that the fruit we eat may have been grown on land in a Third World nation where people needed the land to grow food for themselves and for their children.

Lord, help us to acknowledge that the good life is often ours because the poor of the world are exploited…. And then show us what to do to make things right so that such injustice is vanquished and your shalom is everywhere.

Amen.

A prayer from Tony Campolo from for they shall be fed edited by Ronald J. Sider.

on elephants and mice

What side are you on? There is no middle.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it quite plainly. He stated it both forcefully and succinctly.

“If you are neutral in a situation of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has his foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

And this is really at the heart of the matter, isn’t it? Where do we stand? What side are we on when it comes to the issue of justice for all?

We live in a world unbelievably blessed, a world with enough food for every one of our human family. Justice demands that all of us have access to those life-sustaining resources. The fact that over a billion people on the planet live in extreme poverty without access to sufficient food is morally unacceptable.

Knowing that we live in a world where injustice holds a billion of our family hostage to hunger demands action. And that demand for action brings us back to that original question.  What side are we on?

We can say we are neutral if we want. But, as the good Archbishop has pointed out, that clearly places us with those who are the oppressors. That’s not where I want to be. We have to make that elephant move.

I am on the side of the poor and hungry. There’s enough food for all of us. Isn’t it time that we learn to share? Isn’t it time that we start living more faithfully, and actually start practicing a lifestyle more reflective of God’s love and care for all of creation?

Lent is just around the corner. I, for one, think that will be a perfect time to take some positive steps toward living more justly. Maybe if I deny myself just a little I will have a little more I can share with those who need it far more than I do. At least then I can demonstrate a little more clearly that I am trying to get that damned elephant to move his foot.