Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas and Mercy

On December 8th, Pope Francis inaugurated this year as Jubilee Year, dedicated to contemplation and reflection on GOD’S MERCY toward us and to the requirements that his LOVE lays upon each one of Christ’s disciples in our daily life.

At the same time, during Advent, we prepare for the liturgical season of CHRISTMAS in which —once again— we commemorate the BIRTH OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

What is the message contained in this Jubilee Year of MERCY for the world, and what is the relationship between the merciful love of God for us and the season of CHRISTMAS?

Let us say in the first place that MERCY means literally “a shaking heart over the need of others”. Mercy is, according to the text of the Gospels, that which always moved Jesus to meet the needs (especially of hunger and forgiveness) of those who approached him to listen to him and follow him.

Thus we can say that if there is anything the world needs today, all of humanity, it is clear signs of compassion and mercy by people, communities and nations that have the most human resources (talents) and material goods (financial resources) to favor those who have fewer opportunities for health, education, shelter, work, and a life worth living.

The globalized world has made great advances in terms of material riches, technology and scientific progress of all kinds and yet we also perceive that such accomplishments have generated a global fringe of marginalized people and communities that are not only poor but impoverished due to the cold logic of the predominant economic structure. An impoverishment that constitutes a shame, an affront to the persons and the nations that manage the power, the riches and the technical and scientific resources.

This unjust, unequal and inhuman situation calls for compassion and MERCY. That is to say, there should be a profound inner shaking of everyone, especially for those that suffer the greatest needs of all kinds in our society. Mercy, compassion, inner shaking that is contrary to every kind of discrimination, segregation or simple indifference toward the pain that others suffer.

MERCY requires such a posture of people and nations that makes us aware of the common destiny shared by all human beings, inhabitants of our common home which is the planet Earth. Thus, nothing that happens to another human being (good, or especially painful, apart from his ideology, race, religion, etc.) should be treated with indifference by another person. In the world, we are all affected by what affects everyone else. We are benefitted by that which benefits another human being, and we should suffer for the need of those who are marginalized in our societies.

This is, precisely and essentially, the message of CHRISTMAS: In the baby Jesus “wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” God shows pity, compassion and mercy on every person, especially toward the least in the world, on those who are born, live and die in stables. In Jesus of Nazareth God came to share the daily life, the common struggles and the definitive destiny of all humanity. We can say that CHRISTMAS is the manifestation of THE MERCY OF GOD TOWARD US. For that reason, the name of the long awaited One —according to the Old Testament prophets— is EMANUEL, which means “God with us”.

My friends, I invite you to turn our faith and our daily life into a space for MERCY toward all, especially toward the weakest, so that our life might always be CHRISTMAS. So that this Jubilee Year of Mercy might become all the years of our existence on earth, and that CHRISTMAS never end. Merry Christmas and a 2016 full of mercy and blessings!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

For the Home of Everyone

Currently, in the city of Paris, representatives of the governments of 195 nations are meeting for the task of accomplishing a global agreement concerning the earth’s climate. This is another opportunity to put the brakes on the phenomenon of climate change or —in more apocalyptic terms— the last chance to save our home, our planet.

Economic growth is possible without emissions, some say. It is possible to combine development, economic progress and the earth’s climate, others say. A difference of two degrees Celsius in the climate’s heat would be the point of no return, warn others. 660 million children (humanity’s future) live in zones at risk of climate change. 25% of the economic impact due to climate change would be felt in the rural areas of the planet. 2020 would be the entrance year for the agreement this week in Paris and would continue until 2050, when this agreement would be replaced by the second approved phase in the Kyoto agreement.

These are figures, warnings, opinions, news headlines that refer to the enormous catastrophe that is threatening humanity and for which all of us —in greater or lesser degree, collectively or individually— are both responsible and victims at the same time. Yet clearly, no one dare remain indifferent to this grave problem that involves all humanity.

Pope Francis also expressed his unity with this serious global concern with an urgent call in his recent Encyclical LAUDATO SI (on the care of our common home).

In it, Francis explains masterfully, at the outset, the various problems that constitute the serious ecological crisis we face (contamination and climate change, garbage and the culture of waste, the question of water, the loss of biodiversity, deterioration of the quality of human life, planetary inequality, the paucity of reactions to the ecological problem) and that which the pope considers the greatest causes of these problems (globalization of the technocratic paradigm and the serious consequences of modern anthropocentrism).

Other themes dealt with in the Encyclical are: “the intimate relationship between those who are poor and the fragility of the planet, the conviction that in the world everything is interconnected, the critique of the new paradigm and the forms of power derived from technology, the invitation to seek other ways of understanding economy and progress, the essential value of every creature, human awareness of ecology, the need for sincere and honest debates, the serious responsibility of international and local politics, the culture of waste and the proposal of a new life style”.(16)

All of us already know that if there is no change in the current tendencies (of irrational exploitation and environmental contamination), the relationship between humans and nature will continue to deteriorate with greater speed and gravity.

The hour has arrived —for the survival of the human species on the face of the earth— to make decisions that are set into clear and definitive actions to make possible what is known as “integral sustainable development”.

This integral sustainable development involves, in the first place, a perception of humans as administrators (not owners) of all that is created, in favor of, and at the service of all, especially of the most needy; a respect for nature in which ethical and moral principles (and not selfish and egocentric interests) are fundamental and are expressed in relationships between humanity and nature. All of this will make it possible to preserve the natural resources and all the good that is contributed by humans on the earth so as to transmit them as a rich inheritance to the generations to come.

The alarms are sounding. All that is left is for each of us to assume the responsibility that is ours in the care of our “common home” and to apply that responsibility every day in a consequential manner.