Reflection for September 2010
St Basil known for his care of the poor and underprivileged wrote – “ The bread you do not use is the bread of the hungry. The garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of the one who is naked. The shoes you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot. The money you keep locked away is the money of the poor. The acts of charity you do not perform are so many injustices you commit – by a thousand paths make your riches reach the homes of the poor.”
These words, written long ago, mirror the principles of Social Teaching that guide the Church today: i.e. the dignity of the individual person, the obligation to promote the common good, solidarity and the preferential option for the poor.
For the first time ever the number of people suffering from hunger in the world has reached one Billion, yet there is more than enough food for all. Africa is burdened with servicing long standing debt a dept that experts tell us could be written off with no ill effects to the world economy. Because of this debt human dignity and the common good are denied by the suffering created due to the draining of resources needed for food, health care, education and sanitation. The principles of solidarity and the preferential option for the poor remind us that we are one human family, that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. In the case of international debt, these principles require that we act to relieve debt and its dire consequences for the world’s poorest people.
The words of St. Basil, written in the 4th century reflect the role of the church in the 21st and also our role within it. We are to be signs of God’s love and instruments for building the community willed by God through the practical solidarity of “sharing each other’s burdens” (Gal 6.2). WORKING FOR THE REMOVAL OF HUNGER AND THE BURDEN OF UNJUST DEBT IS PART OF OUR ROLE IN THE CHURCH. Every human being regardless of their wealth or poverty, race or religion, is a brother or sister within the one human family.
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