“Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Friday, 23 October 2020
The problem with any parable or public statement is that after it is received – with varying degrees of deference or politeness – is that it gets shelved. The history of Christianity is, sadly, all too often an account of how the story of the Good Samaritan is overlooked or simply ignored. In writing Fratelli Tutti, with what amounts to its call to a new global order based on compassion, justice and the inclusion of the marginalised, I fear the same will happen.
Though he eloquently speaks the language of political philosophy and political theory, will the politicians listen to Francis? (I am tempted to say: will they even bother to seek out this document and read it?) While theologians and philosophers will probably read it, comment on it and critique it, will clergy and religious leaders do the same? Will the latter, particularly those obsessed with details of worship or personal ethics try to see how Francis is calling us to a deeper living of the essentials of faith – or will they simply shelve it among other church documents gathering dust?
And what will we do about it?
It is, after all, about us – whatever our station in life. The call to a new life based on compassion and ‘political love’ goes out to everyone on the planet. Just as everyone has a responsibility to care for our common home, the Earth (the subject of Francis’ Laudato Si’), so too we have responsibility for our neighbour. This may be most significant for those who have more access to power – politicians, professionals, public intellectuals, and religious leaders – but it applies to everyone. Since the principles in Fratelli are universal – central to all faiths and to the best values of secular humanism alike – they can be appropriated by everyone.
If ordinary people everywhere embraced the call to political love and resolutely, through how they voted (indeed, by voting) and how they called out the hatemongers that infest our social media, we’d already make a start.
Let us make a start.