30th August – 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

At Sunday Mass I introduce the beginning Penitential Rite with a line from the Readings. In this way rescue1the Word of God serves as the basis for our common examination of conscience. This weekend I picked the verse from the end of the second Reading where St James says: Pure unspoiled religion is this – taking care of the poor and keeping oneself uncontaminated by the world. The fact that St James combines these two ideas infers that if we do get contaminated by the world and its values, our capacity to be compassionate to the poor will be inhibited.

For a long time now, we have been fed a daily diet (at least very regular) of the horrors faced by migrants and refugees trying to make their way to Europe. Last week 71 people were found suffocated in the back of a truck – a number of them were children. Also last week 200 people drown when a boat sunk in the Mediterranean. A total of 400 drown when the ship in the photo went down.

This topic is addressed by a letter to the editor in this week’s Irish Catholic. While not being very palatable to a capitalist perspective, it certainly rings thru with me. It is entirely in line with Catholic Social teaching and the teaching of the popes, most especially Francis.

At the end the letter asks a rhetorical question without giving a clear answer. If I was to supply a clear answer, it would be for us to live by Jesus’ New Commandment given during the Last Supper: Love one [sacrificially] another as I have loved you. This clearly requires Christians to live a voluntary poverty or simplicity of life. As Gandhi put it: Live simply so others can simply live.