Created: Monday, 24 June 2013 Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Word of liberation

1. The Gospel is neither abstract nor neutral. Where there is poverty, misery or oppression, there is also word of liberation. Like that day in Nazareth’s 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 hopeful sign: "the poor have the good news proclaimed to them" (Mt 11,5).
2. The Gospel erupts amidst an enslaved land, in darkness, in need of redemption. It is good news for the poor: “Blessed the poor because the kingdom of God is yours” (Lk 6, 20; see Mt 5, 3).  At the same time, the Gospel is bad news for the rich people: “,"But woe to you who are rich!, for you have received your consolation" (Lk 6,24). Jesus takes the line of the prophets, the defenders of the poor. The poor raise queries alive and universal such 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. A society like this cannot survive. ((Mi 2,1-2; 3,11-12; Is 3,15; 5,8; Am 2,6-8; 8,4-6). That is why because Isaiah claims: “Stop sinning! Learn to do what is right! Promote justice! Give the oppressed reason to celebrate! Take up the cause of the orphan! Defend the rights of the widow” (Is 1, 16 – 17)
4. Poor people prayer appear in the psalms: “When the poor shouts, the Lord listens, and he saves them of all their anguish” (Ps 34), “father of orphans, widows defender, God lives in his holy home, God prepares home for the defenseless, your flock inhabited the land that your goodness, oh Lord, prepared for the poor”, “disperse the people that encourage the war” (Ps 68), “the promised king will do justice to the humble of the people, he will save the children of the poor and he will smash the oppressor” (Ps 72), “don’t forget for ever the life of the poor” (Ps 74).
5. John the Baptist does not demand special ascetic practices. He calls to conversion those who consider themselves true 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 must share (3,11), avoid abuses (3,13), do not take advantage of power (3,14).
6. Among the crowd and the powerful, Jesus opts for the harassed and depressed crowd (Mt 9, 36), the crowd submitted by the powerful (Mt 20, 25). The Magnificat is sung: “"He has thrown down the rules from their thrones but lifted up the lowly" (Lk 1, 52). The Powerful feel themselves threatened by the dissemination of the Gospel, they are afraid that the political agreement established with the empire (Jn 11, 48). The powerful men persecute Jesus and finally crucify him (Mt 27, 37).

7. The Gospel assumes the Decalogue, but it goes farther on: you don’t only will not steal (Dt 5, 19), but you will share your goods. Private property is not for any one an unconditional an absolute right. We can see it in the parable of the unjust money (Lk 16, 1 – 15). But you can say: Perhaps do I have an unjust money? The parable presents two figures, the master and the administrator. The master is God; the administrator, each one of us. The world and the Gospel’s judgement are here confronted. What exceeds the own needs is unjust money. That is why the Lord says: “Obtain friends with the unjust money, so that, when you are out of it, you are to be  received in the eternal homes”, It is an invitation to share your goods. We must give, in good management, what exceeds our needs.

8. The Gospel lays out a radical option: “You cannot serve both to God and to the money” (Lk 16, 13). The money is a false and unjust god: it suffocates the word, it makes to forget God´s sovereignty, it impedes the way of the Gospel to the best prepared hearts, it opens social abysses between poor and rich people (Lk 16, 19 – 31). The Gospel invites us to give clear signal that our god is not the money.

9. When the rich youngster leaves the way of the Gospel, Jesus comments: “How difficult is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mk 10, 23). The disciples are surprised at these words. Jesus tells them: “It is easier for a camel to get through a needle’s eye, than for a rich to enter the kingdom of God” (10, 25). They become frightened. Jesus´ words question even to the disciples and they take them to ask themselves: “Then, who can save himself?”. Jesus, looking them firmly, says: “It is impossible for men, but not for God, because for God everything is possible” (Mk 10, 27).

10. Some precisions. Jesus imposes everybody neither the resignation to the goods, nor its collectivization. There are those who give everything to the poor and they receive much more (Mk 10. 28 – 30). Zaccheus revises his situation and he gives half (Lk 19, 8), another 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 seems absurd to some of the people present (Mk 14, 4 – 5; Jn 12, 4 – 6). In this matter nothing is regulated. That is why it does not need exceptions, justifications or Law exemptions.

11. In the first community nobody called his any goods. (Acts 4, 32). The first Christians lived united and had everything in common; they sold their possessions and their goods and they shared the price among all, according to everyone needs (2, 44 – 45). Communion of hearts is manifested in an effective goods communication. Paul’s communities do not present as spectacular signs as the first Christian community. . Nevertheless, same spirit beats: nobody should be in need (2 Co 8, 14). With this spirit is organized in Corinth a collection for the brothers of Jerusalem, who are having a bad time. The collection must be made according to the following principles: everyone must give according to his conscience and with joy (2 Co 9, 7). Paul warns about some abuses that take place in the community of Thessalonica: “If any of you is not willing to work, he either should not eat” (2 Ts 3, 10).

12. The Church must mainly be, the Church of the poor. It was said by John XXIII in 1962: “In front of the underdeveloped countries, the Church presents herself such as she is and desires to be: as everybody Church, particularly, the Church of the poor”. The Council says: “Joys and hopes, sadness and anguish of our times men, above all of the poor and all those who suffer, are at the same time, the joys and hopes, sadness and anguish of the disciples of Christ” (GS 1), “it is the Church permanent duty to scrutinize up to the bottom the signs of the times and to interpret them in the light of the Gospel” (GS 4)

13. In 1972 Venice archbishop Albino Luciani bumped by first time with the problem of the Vatican business. He went to see Giovanni Benelli, by then substitute for the State Secretary,  who explained him the bottom of the matter: Taxes evasion, shares illegal activity, taking advantage of the broad opportunities of the Vatican Bank. Luciani reaction was immediate: “What does this have to do with the Church of the poor? In the name of God”… It is necessary to revise. 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 raises to 4.612.700. The social disasters of the crisis go up continuously. The demands of urgent help multiply themselves. Food and housing are the problems that require most attention. Problems of non-payment of food, electricity, water or gas bills, unpaid mortgages, rental debts, foreclosures and evictions. A question is up: will our society stand the social disasters of the crisis?

15. According to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), the number of hungry people reaches in 2009 to 1.000 million of people. Hunger is the highest killer in the world. According to the FAO, World Food Organization, every day about 70.000 people (40.000 children) die of hunger. And this happens in a planet that produces more food than that needed to satisfy the calories of the world population

16. In a meeting that took place in Rome June 2002, the FAO requested formally to the rich countries the constitution of an extraordinary fund to eradicate hunger in the world: 50.000 million dollars each year. The rich countries said they had no resources. Nevertheless, nine months later, in March 2003, there was four time more, 200.000 million dollars to finance Irak´s war, that meant an expenditure of 600.000 million dollars, twelve more times than what FAO had requested. With that money, hunger in the world would have been ended for twelve years. But “money and weapons imperialism triumphs” (Casaldáliga). USA, the most powerful country of the world, has the highest external debt: 10,7 billion dollars. From the end of 2001, expenditure has exceeded  the income. The cycle is infernal: at one side, the specialization in the weapons sector makes it impossible the return to a peace economy; at the other side, Iraq and Afghanistan wars can cost 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 are used in the preparations of always new weapons, it is not possible to offer a good enough remedy to the immense present  miseries of the world” (GS 81), “armament race is a very grave plague for humanity and it intolerably harms the poor” (GS 81), “let today’s men know that they will have to give very serious account of  their war actions” (GS 79). It is necessary to avoid “the monstrosity of the wars” (GS 79), to overcome the “large social difficulties” (GS 63 and 66)

18. In his second general audience, September the 20th 1978, John Paul I emphasized Paul VI encyclical about people’s  development: “When the encyclical was published, he said, I was touched and excited”. In his last catechesis, 27th September, he strongly recalled Pope Paul’s words: “Hunger’s peoples dramatically question today the opulence peoples”, “private property does not constitute for anybody an unconditional and absolute right”, “nobody is authorized to reserve for his exclusive use what exceeds his needs, when others are missing what is necessary for them”, “any exhausting armament race becomes an intolerable scandal”.

*Dialogue: Do we deliver conversion fruits?, what should we do?