JPIC Links Conference, 27.9.14
“The Joy of the Gospel, Living Justly”
Speaker: David McLoughlin of Newman College, University of Birmingham
On 24.11.13 Pope Francis issued an exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”, in which he urged all Christians to share the Gospel out in the real world. When we have been touched by the Lord and really encountered Jesus, this experience of knowing and feeling God’s love, mercy and salvation fills us with joy which we then need to share with others, everywhere, at any time. The Church has for too long been in self-preservation mode, and now needs to move into missionary mode. All the Church’s ways of doing things, customs, times, schedules, language and structures must be geared to evangelisation. The laity, including women, must be involved in decision-making in the Church and in society at large. The Christian moral message is to love one another, which must motivate all Christians to share the Gospel, help the poor and work for social justice. We are all reconciled sinners reaching out to others with the same mercy God offers us. If we have received the love of God which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others? All the Baptised are agents of evangelisation, encouraged and supported by the community of the parish.
God’s heart has a special place for the poor, ever since our redemption began with the “YES” spoken by a lowly maiden in a small town on the fringes of a great empire. In his view, Pope Francis declares that “trickle-down” theories of economic growth simply do not work. Instead they lead to idolatry of money and completely deny the primary importance of the individual person: the real bottom line is the dignity and worth of the person. Globalization could and should open up an unprecedented possibility for large-scale redistribution of wealth on a world-wide scale rather than an increase in poverty and inequality. Profits should not come before people, and private charity is not enough: the poor need justice – social justice, redistributive justice. God’s gifts are to be shared by all, not used solely for the pleasure and self-advancement of the few. To be evangelisers of souls, we need to develop a spiritual taste for living close to people’s lives, to have a passion for Jesus and a passion for his people. Jesus never tires of saying to us “YOU give them something to eat”.
JPIC Links Conference, May 2014
Thank you to everyone who attended the JPIC Links Conference in May. It was my first time – and will not, God willing, be my last. The theme was the interconnectedness of Creation and our relationship within that.
Sister Nellie Mc Laughlin challenged us to remember that God is infinitely more than all creation but God is in all of it, and we as humans are an integral part of the created earth. “We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness” says Teilhard de Chardin and, as we pray, we are “inhaling and exhaling the one breath of the universe” (Hildegard of Bingen). Sister Nellie urged us to recognise that we cannot continue to think of creation in a “dualist” way as if we, and God, were separate from it. We are not.
If we need to be reminded of that consider that whenever there is a man-made environmental disaster we are all affected in some way, but the poor (the people the least likely to have been the cause of that disaster) always suffer the most. It must be obvious, Nellie pointed out, that we can’t sort out today’s environmental problems through the mind-set that created them – we need to think differently. We need to see the world differently. We need to awaken to the real presence of God which is “everywhere and always”. We need to see the world as did Matilde of Germany: “I saw and knew that I saw the God of all things and God in all things”
What an inspiring group of people you are! Mealtimes took us to all parts of the globe as conversations abounded with stories of lives dedicated to the cause of justice and peace, individuals working out in practical ways a commitment to making the world a healthier, happier and safer place to live. And you same people, many years down the line, are still fully engaged in your work, mostly in the UK now, in so far as your health and energy allows.
The range of JPIC projects impressed me too – asylum seekers, the homeless, single young people in need of independent housing, “bedroom tax” victims, “hard to reach” TB sufferers in London and a whole host of other causes that I barely knew existed. JPICers are meeting practical needs on a daily basis, tweeting, campaigning through the political system, writing letters and newspaper articles, organising petitions and speaking up for the causes in any other way they could find. We talked about the work of CAAT and the arms trade, the environment, modern paganism, the merits of wearing habits when press photographers are around … I take my hat off to you faithful, unrelenting soldiers, and have been personally challenged about my own level of relative (in)activity!
Thank you again for an inspiring and challenging weekend. See you next year.
Karen (TSSF Chilterns Area)