SOME CHALLENGES OF TODAY'S WORLD
Not everyone has been thrilled with Pope Francis' Letter on the Joy of the Gospel. Perhaps if he had stuck to matters of "religion," it would have been OK. But in the portions of the letter that we are considering today, he has dared to speak about economics. So Rush Limbaugh has called him a Marxist. Others have called him the "Red Pope."
Nonsense. If these critics understood Marxism and carefully read the Pope's letter, they would see that there is no one more opposed to communism that
Pope Francis who, by the way, is here merely echoing the teaching of Jesus, St. Paul, and John Paul II.
The Holy Father is against anything that "restrains or weakens the impulse of missionary renewal in the Church" (51). If anything qualifies, it is idolatry that replaces God with another absolute, and in so doing, destroys the dignity of those made in God's image and likeness (55).
Money, by which we purchase goods and services necessary to sustain and support life, is not the problem. It is good. It is when it is melted down to form the Golden Calf that it becomes bad. The more valuable a thing is, the more dangerous it is when it goes wrong. And when the accumulation of wealth becomes and end and all else, including people, become merely expendable means, then things have gone horribly wrong.
The Pope does not want us all to stop trying to earn money. And is he is not wanting to replace the free market with a state-controlled socialism. But neither the free market nor the state can ever be a law unto itself or an end unto itself. They both must be ordered to the dignity, development, and equality of all human persons.
If all were well in the world, the market falling two points would not matter more to us than the homeless man dying of exposure in the street. If all were well, Advent would not be replaced with the shopping days before "the holidays." If all were well, we would not be comfortable with human beings being referred to as "consumers."
The Holy Father asks politicians, business persons, and every single one of us to examine our consciences. In our business and public and business policy, in our personal lives, have we become calloused? Have we allowed the culture of prosperity to deaden us, so that we feel excitement about the release of the latest smartphone, but are not moved by the loneliness of the elderly or the pain of the homeless?
Such considerations belong in a letter about the joy of the gospel because callousness and indifference blunt joy and obscure the face of Christ shining forth from the Church. If we would ever hope to attract people to Christ, we must first imitate Jesus' approach to the rich young man. Before he spoke to him, he "looked at him with love" (Mk 10:21).
The greatest enemy of love is not hate. It is indifference.
The father of five and a business owner, Marcellino brings to his teaching a practical, down-to-earth, and humorous perspective that makes his words easy to understand and enjoyable to hear. He is a world renowned commentator on Catholic issues having appeared on Fox News' "Geraldo Rivera At Large" and
The O'Reilly Factor. His book The Guide to the Passion, answering 100 questions about Mel Gibson's film, hit #6 on the New York Times best-sellers list with over a million copies sold. He appears frequently on a variety of Catholic TV and radio networks where he is known as "Dr. Italy."
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