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Sunday, April 29, 2007

WK 33 and B16's Jesus

I just read an interesting post by Jeff on the Pope's Jesus of Nazareth, and the somewhat anti-liberation theology idea expressed in the book that Jesus didn't come here to bring earthly peace and justice, to turn stones to bread, but to bring us God (Benedict XVI publishes Jesus of Nazareth).

This week of the Creighton online retreat coincidently seems to focus on a combination of Benedict's thought and that of liberation theology ... God's love for us, and our response to that love.

And about our response, Ignatius believed that love was best shown in deeds. Here below is some of what Pedro Arrupe said in an address to the "Tenth International Congress of Jesuit Alumni of Europe," in Valencia, Spain, on July 31, 1973 - it touches on these very questions ....

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Today our prime educational objective must be to form men-and-women-for-others; men and women who will live not for themselves but for God and his Christ - for the God-man who lived and died for all the world; men and women who cannot even conceive of love of God which does not include love for the least of their neighbors; men and women completely convinced that love of God which does not issue in justice for others is a farce .....

There are two lines of reflection before us. One is to deepen our understanding of the idea of justice as it becomes more and more clear in the light of the Gospel and the signs of the times. The other is to determine the character and quality of the type of people we want to form, the type of man or woman into which we must be changed, and towards which the generations succeeding us must be encouraged to develop, if we and they are to serve this evangelical ideal of justice.

The first line of reflection begins with the Synod of Bishops of 1971, and its opening statement on "Justice in the World:"

Gathered from the whole world, in communion with all who believe in Christ and with the entire human family, and opening our hearts to the Spirit who is making the whole of creation new, we have questioned ourselves about the mission of the People of God to further justice in the world.

Scrutinizing the “signs of the times” and seeking to detect the meaning of emerging history… we have listened to the Word of God that we might be converted to the fulfilling of the divine plan for the salvation of the world…

We have… been able to perceive the serious injustices which are building around the world of men and women a network of domination, oppression and abuses which stifle freedom and which keep the greater part of humanity from sharing in the building up and enjoyment of a more just and more fraternal world.

At the same time we have noted the inmost stirring moving the world in its depths. There are facts constituting a contribution to the furthering of justice. In associations of men and women and among peoples there is arising a new awareness which spurs them on to liberate themselves and to be responsible for their own destiny.


The call of the church

Please note that these words are not a mere repetition of what the Church has traditionally taught. They are not a refinement of doctrine at the level of abstract theory. They are the resonance of an imperious call of the living God asking his Church and all men of good will to adopt certain attitudes and undertake certain types of action which will enable them effectively to come to the aid of mankind oppressed and in agony.

This interpretation of the signs of the times did not originate with the Synod. It began with the Second Vatican Council; its application to the problem of justice was made with considerable vigor in Populorum Progressio; and spreading outward from this center to the ends of the earth, it was taken up in 1968 by the Latin American Bishops at Medellin, in 1969 by the African Bishops at Kampala, in 1970 by the Asian Bishops in Manila. In 1971, Pope Paul VI gathered all these voices together in the great call to action of Octogesima Adveniens .......

We are commanded to love God and to love our neighbor. But note what Jesus says: the second commandment is like unto the first; they fuse together into one compendium of the Law. And in his vision of the Last Judgment, what does the Judge say? “As long as you did this for one of the least of my brothers, you did it for me.”3

As Father Alfaro says:

Inclusion in or expulsion from the Kingdom proclaimed by Jesus depends on our attitude toward the poor and oppressed; toward those who are identified in Isaiah 58,1-2 as the victims of human injustice and in whose regard God wills to realize his justice. What is strikingly new here is that Jesus makes these despised and marginalized folk his brothers. He identifies himself with the poor and the powerless, with all who are hungry and miserable. Every person in this condition is Christ’s brother or sister; that is why what is done for them is done for Christ himself. Whoever comes effectively to the aid of these brothers and sisters of Jesus belongs to his Kingdom; whoever abandons them to their misery excludes himself or herself from that Kingdom.
- Juan B. Alfaro, S.J. Christianisme et Justice, Commission Pontificale, Justice et Paix, Cite du Vatican, 1973, pp. 28

Love and justice meet

Just as love of God, in the Christian view, fuses with love of neighbor, to the point that they cannot possibly be separated, so, too, charity and justice meet together and in practice are identical. How can you love someone and treat him or her unjustly? Take justice away from love and you destroy love. You do not have love if the beloved is not seen as a person whose dignity must be respected, with all that that implies. And even if you take the Roman notion of justice as giving to each his due, what is owing to him, Christians must say that we owe love to all people, enemies not excepted.

Just as we are never sure that we love God unless we love others, so we are never sure that we have love at all unless our love issues in works of justice. And I do not mean works of justice in a merely individualistic sense. I mean three things:

Works of justice

First, a basic attitude of respect for all people which forbids us ever to use them as instruments for our own profit.

Second, a firm resolve never to profit from, or allow ourselves to be suborned by, positions of power deriving from privilege, for to do so, even passively, is equivalent to active oppression. To be drugged by the comforts of privilege is to become contributors to injustice as silent beneficiaries of the fruits of injustice.

Third, an attitude not simply of refusal but of counterattack against injustice; a decision to work with others toward the dismantling of unjust social structures so that the weak, the oppressed, the marginalized of this world may be set free ......

Christ, a man for others

Men-and-women-for-others: the paramount objective of Jesuit education – basic, advance, and continuing – must now be to form such men and women. For if there is any substance in our reflections, then this is the prolongation into the modern world of our humanist tradition as derived from the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. Only by being a man-or-woman-for-others does one become fully human, not only in the merely natural sense, but in the sense of being the “spiritual” person of Saint Paul. The person filled with the Spirit; and we know whose Spirit that is: the Spirit of Christ, who gave his life for the salvation of the world; the God who, by becoming a human person, became, beyond all others, a Man-for-others, a Woman-for-others.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Jeff said...

Hi Crystal,

Thanks for another tag. Great remarks by Arrupe, and sadly, it seems like the Vatican has backed off of or downplayed the statements they once made that he made reference to in his lecture. As you know, in certain quarters they blame Arrupe and his approach for "ruining" the Jesuits. I prefer to see it as an evidence of how difficult and challenging it is to walk in Jesus' footsteps in the truest sense.

2:30 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Jeff -

Yep, I really love the idealism of Arrupe.

3:21 PM  

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