Thursday, 22 October 2015

Che Francisco

On the flight between Cuba and the USA one of the journalists asked Pope Francis if his politics were leaning to the left. Perhaps his heart for the poor and criticism of the ‘unfettered pursuit of money’ once referred to as the ‘dung of Satan’ may have contributed to this misunderstanding.

Cuba was an interesting backdrop for such an enquiry. Pope Francis’s fellow Argentinian, Che Guevara, who famously helped free Cuba from dictatorship and installed the current communist government, was also a man whose principal motivation was compassion for those who were being horribly oppressed and exploited. It is true that both hate the sins that the rich and powerful commit against the poor.

But then their paths separate. The communist ideology requires hatred of the sinner too in order to defeat him, and so turns in on itself and of necessity becomes worse than its adversary. (James 1:20’ because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires’) The Pope’s way of course is more hopeful of the change of heart of those who currently do evil and happy to leave the battle and timing in God’s hands whilst proclaiming the truth in love and candor.

Pope Francis seeks a revolution too, a change of heart, individually and collectively, a turning outward, first to God and then, as a product of that, to each other and especially those in need.

It’s interesting that the Cuban leader, Raul Castro, when he met the Pope prior to his visit to Cuba, said "I read all the speeches of the Pope, and if he continues this way, I will go back to praying and go back to the church, and I'm not joking," Love conquers all!

Saturday, 3 October 2015

The Helpless

There was an extraordinary photograph taken in 90’s of a vulture that landed near a Sudanese child on the verge of starvation, waiting for her to die so it could devour her.  When it was published it became a symbol of famine in Africa, moving many to outrage, others to pity and charity.

When I look at it though, I see something else. The child, weak and helpless, is quite unaware of the danger lurking behind it, it has other concerns. And most of the people on earth are very much like this helpless starving child, not through famine or lack of any means of preserving their physical life but because they are starved of the means to strengthen themselves against their very real and dangerous enemy

As our societies become increasingly godless, the people are easy prey for the enemy of their souls. They don’t know they have an enemy, they don’t know how to strengthen themselves to combat his wiles. They simply fall into every trap he lays. And yet we have been given everything we need to put the enemy to flight;- a prayer life, the sacramental life of the church, a community of believers and so on.

The photographer, Kevin Carter, won a Pulitzer prize but was always haunted by the event because whilst he had shooed away the vulture afterwards, he failed to intervene to save the child.

As Christians how can we intervene to rescue from death those around us, who whilst they may appear happy, successful and productive are devoid of the true life in God, spiritually emaciated and living in the shadow of a merciless creature, lying in wait to take possession of them at death. We too may be haunted by what we fail to do to prevent that. Perhaps prayer and bold witness to what we believe would be a start.