VATICAN CITY, JAN. 20, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a meditation jointly prepared by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches for the third day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
The week began Sunday and continues through Jan. 25, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle. The theme for 2009 is “That They May Become One in Your Hand” (Ezekiel 37:17).
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Christians Face-to-Face With Injustice and Poverty
Leviticus 25:8-14 — “The jubilee which liberates”
Psalm 146 — “The Lord executes justice for the oppressed”
1 Timothy 6:9-10 — “The love of money is the root of all evil”
Luke 4:16-21 — “Jesus and the jubilee as liberation”
We pray for the kingdom of God to arrive. We long for a world where people, in particular the poorest, do not die before their appointed time. However, the economic system of the world today aggravates the situation of the poor and accentuates social inequity.
Today the world community is confronted with the growing precariousness of labor and its consequences. The idolatry of the market (profit), like the love of money according to the author of the Epistle to Timothy, thus appears as ‘the root of all evil’. What can and must the churches do in this context? Let us look at the biblical theme of jubilee which Jesus evoked to define his ministry.
According to the Leviticus text, during the jubilee, liberation was to be proclaimed; economic immigrants could return to their homes and their family; if somebody had lost all his goods he could also live with the populace as a foreign resident. Money was not to be lent for interest nor food sold for profit.
The jubilee implied a community ethic, the freeing of slaves and their return home, the restoration of financial rights and the cancellation of debts. For the victims of unjust social structures, this meant the restitution of law and of their means of existence.
The priorities of today’s world, in which “more money” is seen as the highest value and goal of life, can only lead to death. As churches, we are called to counter this by living together in the spirit of jubilee and following Christ, spreading this good news. As Christians experience the healing of their divisions they become more sensitive to other divisions, which wound humanity and creation.
God of justice, there are places in this world overflowing with food, but others where there is not enough and where the hungry and the sick are many. God of peace, there are those in this world who profit from violence and war and others who because of war and violence are forced to leave their homes and become refugees. God of compassion, Help us to understand that we cannot live by money alone but that we can live by the word of God. Help us to understand that we cannot attain life and true prosperity except by loving God and obeying his will and his teaching. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
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Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/