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26 October 2014
posted by Canon Dakin on 30-10-2014

For a change this morning it was the first reading which made the gospel more specific rather than the other way round. It unfolded what Our Lord wrapped up in his commandment to love one’s neighbour. When you were listening to that passage from Exodus what came to mind? Wonga? The homeless? Pope Francis has written an encyclical, The Joy of the Gospel.  He is as fresh and forthright as we would expect him to be. He takes a look at contemporary society and he doesn’t like what he sees.  He notices the strong division between the haves and the have-nots.  The mantra of the 1970s was that the market knows best, it rewards the successful and the fruits of their gains will trickle down to the poor. Pope Francis is sceptical. He sees no signs of it He says: “Such an economy kills”. “Today everything comes under the law of competition and the survival of the fittest where the powerful feed upon the powerless”. “Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded”.

What’s the answer? Human solidarity - and for Christians, in the name of Christ.

He hints that this should be more than putting money in a collecting box - it means getting stuck in, taking a personal interest. If you saw ‘Surprise Surprise’ on Thursday night you will remember a young woman called Jodi. She had contracted a debilitating illness and was feeling down in the dumps until she received from someone a message which made her laugh and cheered her up.  She then used the web to invite anyone who felt depressed to let her know and she would write to them. Within twenty four hours she had five hundred requests. So she started sending out hand-written letters of encouragement addressing each one’s situation. Her letters now are numbering thousands and have been deeply appreciated. That is the kind of thing Pope Francis has in mind - personal involvement. Cafod has tried to provide a bridge between people.  What we give to Cafod during the ordinary weeks of the year is dedicated to the situation of a small village in Ethiopia illustrated on our notice-board, but I would bring us a little closer to home. Next Saturday we have our Autumn Fair.  You may buy raffle tickets, you may kindly provide prizes, but on the day itself we see very few of your faces. You may think duty done - I have made a contribution - but we really would value your personal presence. It creates atmosphere - it would express appreciation also of those who stand behind the stalls they have prepared. This is the kind of personal involvement which Pope Francis values in relation to community.       

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