By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI
“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot last.
And if a household is divided against itself, that household can never stand.”
I urge you to read today’s gospel (Mk 3:20–35) carefully. In a world that is fraught with division and hate, there is much work for us to do to build God’s Kingdom here on Earth. God is a God of justice. There are more than 25 verses about justice in our Bible. For example, we read in Psalm 89:14:
“Righteousness and Justice support your throne, Love and Faithfulness are your attendants. Happy the people who learn to acclaim you!”
And Isaiah 61:8 states:
“For I, Yahweh, love justice,
I hate robbery and all that is wrong.”
We know that there is much that is wrong in our world today. The challenge for us, for example, is to counteract the fake news of moral relativism that has spread globally, and which threatens to overwhelm us, giving people the impression that there is no objective moral norm.
Pope Benedict XVI had warned us about the hazards of a “dictatorship of relativism”. Pope Francis describes this as the “spiritual poverty of our time…which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples.”
He says: “Francis of Assisi tells us we should work to build peace. But there is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth.”
In his encyclical, Laudato Si’ (LS), on care for our common home, Pope Francis warns: “The culture of relativism is the same disorder which drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects, imposing forced labour on them or enslaving them to pay their debts. The same kind of thinking leads to the sexual exploitation of children and abandonment of the elderly who no longer serve our interests.
“It is also the mindset of those who say: Let us allow the invisible forces of the market to regulate the economy and consider their impact on society and nature as collateral damage. In the absence of objective truths or sound principles other than the satisfaction of our own desires and immediate needs, what limits can be placed on human trafficking, organized crime, the drug trade, commerce in blood diamonds and the fur of endangered species?
“Is it not the same relativistic logic which justifies buying the organs of the poor for resale or use in experimentation, or eliminating children because they are not what their parents wanted? This same ‘use and throw away’ logic generates so much waste, because of the disordered desire to consume more than what is really necessary.
“We should not think that political efforts or the force of law will be sufficient to prevent actions which affect the environment because, when the culture itself is corrupt and objective truth and universally valid principles are no longer upheld, then laws can only be seen as arbitrary impositions or obstacles to be avoided” (123, LS).
Although Laudato Si’ week ended recently, I was thrilled to read about the launch by Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, “a seven-year journey towards integral ecology.” (See report page 5)
He said that the Dicastery is proposing seven Laudato Si’ goals. The first year will be dedicated to “the three fundamental tasks of community building, resource sharing, and drawing up of concrete action plans” for the realisation of those goals.
The seventh year will be a “Sabbatical year to praise and thank God.” These goals, he said, can be realised “only through partnership, walking the ‘synodal’ path Pope Francis is proposing to the entire Church.”
Let us walk in the path of righteousness, remembering Jesus’ words: “Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother” (Mk 3:35).
“May the Virgin Mother help us to live always in communion with Jesus, recognising the work of the Holy Spirit who acts in him and in the Church, regenerating the world to new life” (Pope Francis).
Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain. We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation, and filth. The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes, such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world. (161)
Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee