GOOD NEWS IS PROCLAIMED TO THE POOR

Created: Wednesday, 07 July 2010 Last Updated: Friday, 07 June 2013
GOOD NEWS IS PROCLAIMED TO THE POOR 
1.- The Gospel is neither abstract nor neutral. Where there is poverty, misery or oppression, there is also Word of Liberation. As that day in Nazareth synagogue: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor; He has sent me to proclaim liberty for captives and sight for the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the Lord’s year of grace. (Lk 4, 18-19). What was announced by Isaiah prophet is fulfilled (Is 61, 1 -2). Jesus´ message presents, this expected sign: The poor have the good news proclaimed to them (Mt 11, 5).
2.- The Gospel bursts into a slaved country, in shadows, needed of redemption. It is good news for the power people: Fortunate are you who are poor, the kingdom o f God is yours (Lk 6, 20; see Mt 5,3). At the same time, the Gospel is bad news for the rich people: But unhappy are you who have wealth, for you have been comforted now (Lk 6, 24). Jesus places himself in the line of the prophets, defenders of the poor people. The poor raise questions so alive and universal as the bread, the health, the housing, the education, the justice, the freedom.
3.- Prophets denounce scandalous differences between rich and poor, the oppression suffered by the weak, the rapacity of the powerful, the tyranny of the creditor without feeling, the fraud of merchants, the venality of the judges, the greediness of the priests and false prophets. The prophets announce that a society like this cannot survive. Mi 2, 1 – 2; 3, 11 - 12; Is 3, 15 and 5, 8; Am 2, 6-8; 8, 4-6). That is why Isaiah claims: Put an end to your wickedness and learn to do good. Seek justice, give hope to the oppressed, give the fatherless their rights and defend the widow (Is 1, 16 – 17)
4.-  Poor people´s prayer appears in the psalms: When the poor cry out, the Lord hears and saves them from distress (Psalm 34); father of orphans, protector of widows, God lives in his holy dwelling, he gives shelter to the homeless, your people found a dwelling and from your bounty, O God, you provided for the needed, he scatters the peoples who encourage the war (Psalm 68), the promised king will make justice to the needy of the people, he will save the children of the poor and he will crush the oppressor (Psalm 72), do not forget the life of the poor whom you love (Psalm 74)
5. John the Baptist does not demand special ascetic practices. He calls to conversion those who consider themselves long live believers: Produce good fruits as evidence of your repentance; and do not begin to say to yourselves: we have Abraham as our father (Lk 3, 8). To the question about what then should we do? (3, 10), he answers: you should share (3, 11), avoid abuses (3, 13), do not take advantage of power (3, 14).
6.- Among the crowd and the powerful, Jesus chooses the harassed and helpless crowd (Mt 9, 36), the crowd oppressed by the powerful (Mt 20, 25). It is sung in the Magnificat: He has put down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up those who are downtrodden (Lk 1, 52). The powerful feel threaten by the Gospel diffusion; they are afraid that the politic pact established with the empire breaks (Jn 11, 48). The powerful pursue Jesus and, at the end, they crucified him (Mt 27, 37).
7.- The Gospel assumes the Decalogue, but it goes furthermore: you not only will not steal (Dt 5, 19), but you also will share your goods. Private property is not an unconditional and absolute right for anybody. We can see it in the unjust money parable (Lk 16, 1 – 15). But we can say, do I have unjust money? The parable presents two figures, the owner and the administrator. The owner is God; the administrator, every one of us. The judgment of the world and the judgment of the Gospel are here confronted. What is over the own need is unjust money. That is why the Lord says: Use filthy money to make friends for yourself, so that when it fails, these people may welcome you into the eternal homes. It is an invitation to share the goods. We must give, under a good management, what is over our own need.
8.- The Gospel brings up a radical option: you cannot serve both to God and to the money (Lk 16, 13). Money is a false and unjust god: it drowns the Word, obliges to forget God´s sovereignty, prevents the path of the Gospel to the most ready hearts, it opens social barriers between the rich and the poor (Lk 16, 19 – 31). The Gospel invites us to give clear signals that money is not our god.
9.- When the rich youngster leaves the Gospel way, Jesus comments: How hard is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! (Mk 10, 23). The disciples are surprised by these words. Jesus tells them: It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle that for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. (10, 25). They get scared. Jesus´ words question even to the disciples and take them to ask themselves: Then, who can be saved? Jesus, looking steadily at them, says: For humans it is impossible, but not for God, because all things are possible with God. (10, 27)
10.- Some clarifying matters. Jesus does not impose to everybody neither the renounce to their goods nor its collectivization. There are those who give everything to the poor and they receive much more (Mk 10, 28 – 30). Zaqueo reviews his situation and gives half of his goods (Lk 19,8), another one helps with loans (6, 34 – 35), there are women who follow Jesus and support him with their goods (Lk 8, 3), another one makes with him a waste that looks absurd to some (Mk14, 4 – 5; Jn 12, 4 – 6 ). In this aspects nothing is legally regulated. That is why it does not need exceptions, justifications nor legal exemptions.
11.- In the first Christian community no one claimed any of their possessions as his own (Acts 4, 32). The first Christians lived together and shared all their belongings; they would sell their property and all they had and distribute the proceeds to others according to their need (2, 44 – 45). Hearts communion manifests in an effective goods communication. Paul´s communities do not present so spectacular signs as the first Christian community. However, the same spirit is present: that nobody be in need (2 Co 8, 14). With this spirit he organizes in Corinth a collection to attend Jerusalem’s brothers, who are into a bad situation. The collection must be made under these principles: each one must give in conscience and with joy (2 Co 9, 7). Paul advises about some abuses that take place in Thessalonica: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat (Thes 3, 10)
12.- The Church must specially be the Church of the poor. John XXIII said it in 1962: “In front of the underdeveloped countries, the Church should appear like she is and she wants to be: like everybody´s Church, particularly, the Church of the poor”. The Council says: “the joy and the hope, the sadness and the anguish of the men of our time, above all of the poor and of all those who suffer, are, at the same time, the joy and hope, the sadness and the anguish of the disciples of Christ” (GS 1), “it is a permanent duty of the Church to scrutinize in depth the signs of the times and to interpret them in the light of the Gospel” (GS 4)
13.- In 1972 Venice Archbishop Albino Luciani found by first time the problem of the Vatican business. He met Giovani Benelli, by then acting State Secretary, who explained to him the heart of the question: Taxes evasion, illegal stocks movements, taking advantage of the facilities the Vatican Bank had. Luciani´s reaction was immediate: “¿What has all this to do with the Church of the poor? In the name of God”… It is necessary to review. In many situations the Gospel is kidnapped by the dominant classes to establish a pact between the power and the Christian churches.
14.- Some present problems. In April 2010, the number of unemployed in Spain amounts to 4.7.612.700. The social disasters of the crisis are continually increasing. The demands of urgent help multiply themselves. Food and lodging are the problems requiring more attention. Food problems, electricity, water or gas unpaid bills, unpaid mortgage, rent debts, seizures, evictions. One question arises: ¿Will our society support the social disasters of the crisis?.
15.- According with the UN´s Food World Program (FWP), the number of hungry people in 2009 reaches 1.000 million persons. Hunger is the greatest killer in the world. According to the FAO, World Food Organization, every day die of hunger about 70.000 people (40.000 children) And this takes place in a planet that produces more food that it were necessary to satisfy the calories of the world population.
16.- In a meeting that took place in Rome in Jun 2002, the FAO officially requested to the rich countries the setting up of a extraordinary fund to eradicate hunger in the world: 50.000 million dollars every year. The rich countries said that they had no resources. However, nine months later, in March 2003, there was an amount four times superior, 200.000 million dollars, to finance the Iraq war, what has already taken an expense of 600.000 million dollars, twelve times more than the amount requested by the FAO. With that money the hunger in the world would have been put to an end for twelve years. But the “imperialism of the money and the arms” (Casaldáliga) triumphs. The USA, the most powerful country in the world, has the biggest external debt: 10,7 billion dollars. From the end of 2001, the expenditure overcame the income. The cycle is infernal: on one side, the specialization of the industries in the armament sector makes impossible to come back to a peace economy; on the other side, the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan may reach an amount of 2,4 billion dollars in the next ten years.
17.- Another world, another society, another Church are needed. Council words were prophetic: “While huge sums of money are used in the preparation of always new weapons, it is not possible to offer a sufficient remedy to the world present immense miseries” (GS 81), “weapons race is an extremely grave plague of humanity and intolerably harms to the poor” (GS81), “let to days´ men that they will have to seriously answer their war actions” (GS 79). It is necessary to avoid “the monstrosity of the wars” (GS 79), to overcome the “large social inequalities” (GS63 y 66).
18.- In his second general audience, on September the 20th , 1978, John Paul I emphasized Paul VI´s  encyclical about the development of the countries: “When the encyclical was published, he said, I was touched and excited”. In his last catechesis, the 27th of September, he strongly recalled Pope Paul´s wards: “The hungry countries question to day in a dramatic manner to the opulent countries”, “private property does not constitute for anybody un unconditional and absolute right”, “nobody is authorize to reserve for his exclusive use what is over his need, when others are missing the necessary minimum”, “any exhausting weapons race becomes an intolerable scandal”.
19. Let us recall the experience of Bartolomé de las Casas. Bartolomé arrives in America in April, 15, 1502, and he shares with Ovando the violent conquest of the "Taínos" Indians. He becomes priest in 1511. In 1523 he enters the Dominican order. From January 1513 he participates with Pánfilo de Narvaez in the conquest of the island of Cuba, where Christian European domination is imposed by "blood and fire". Following the "repartimiento" labor system, Bartolomé receives a group of Indians that work for him. As an accomplice in violence he becomes also an accomplice in exploitation. “Bartolomé de las Casas, the priest, he writes about himself, was very busy and very occupied with his farms, as were others, sending his Indians of the by "repartimiento" to mines, to extract gold and plant seeds, and taking advantage of them as much as possible”.
20. Everything seems to be under control until a quite normal event throws all into question: Diego Velázquez arrives, and as there were no priests or friars in the whole island, he asks Bartolomé to celebrate Mass and predicate the Gospel. It was Pentecost holiday, year 1514. The thing is that Bartolomé “began to reflect deeply on some authoritative words of the Holy Bible”. He found a passage of Sirach (34, 18-22) that astonished him: Tainted are the gifts of those who offer in sacrifice ill-gotten goods! False presents from the lawless do not win Good’s favor. The Most High does not approve of gifts of the godless, nor for their many sacrifices does he forgive their sins. Like the man who slays a son in his father’s presence is he who offers sacrifice from the possessions of the poor. The bread of charity is life itself for the needy: he who withholds it is a man of blood. He kills his neighbor who deprives him of his living, he who denies a labor his wages, sheds his blood.
 21. Bartolomé was unable to celebrate Mass. Applying the one (Bible text) to the other (misery and servitude that were suffering that people) “he declared to himself, convinced by the very truth, that all treatment of the Indians of this India was unjust and tyrannical. Therefore, he freed his Indians (he decided to let them all go) and began his prophetic preaching, first in Cuba, and then in Santo Domingo, later in Spain and afterwards in all the Indian realms, “leaving everyone wondering and even alarmed at what he said to them”. That passage of Sirach had an impressive strength.  
 
• Dialogue: Do we give fruits of conversion?  what must we do?