Monday, August 22, 2011

Prophet is also a Verb

The Church and its leaders have been blasted lately in various editorials and on Blogs. As the Church has been re-asserting the importance of marriage and family life, the dignity of human life, and the call to respond to poverty and oppression, it has been told to stay out of all things political. This comes from a misunderstanding of religion and religious life.

Beginning with Matthew 25, people of faith are challenged to respond to the needs and concerns of society. Even the earliest social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church advocate a just wage, safe conditions at one's employment, shelter, respect and dignity. Wherever there has been injustice and the violation or oppression of human life, the Church has stood on its moral teachings calling for the goodness of the human person.

It is in St. James Letter where the apostle proposes the lack of Christian Charity were we to walk by the poor or anawim, and simply wish them well. St. James has reminded us that the Church has an obligation to work against oppression, injustice, immorality, and to respond to human suffering. As I had mentioned before, people are happy with the Church when we quietly dole out soup, and give out blankets. But we are told that we should not question poverty or the pain in peoples lives.

A few years ago a NIU student questioned why no one seems to make a big deal about the regular shooting which occur in Chicago. My inner-sociologist kicked in and I explained how situations like killings, poverty, homelessness, can become a norm. We come to accept terrible things because they are seemingly so much beyond our control.

Part of the Prophetic role of the Church is to look at the violence, hunger, hurt, pain, disregard of human life and dignity, and loudly proclaim the evil therein. Like the elephant in the living room we try not to notice and moreso we would rather not change. It is always easier to disrespect the message and/or the messenger then to be about conversion and discipleship.

We need to continue to pray for our Church to be sure. But it is also good for us to understand the 'what' and the 'why' the Church is teaching as it does. The proclamations of the Church do not seem to make sense when we do not understand the background or foundation of the teachings. The Church continues its role to preach, teach, and sanctify.

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