Our work at the food distributing center in Paris runs smoothly. We combine it with other activities, mostly tied to the Operando Society, organization of our further travels and writing.
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Since being on the way, we wrote a few articles for other newspapers and magazines, which is always a great pleasure for us. And people who read about our work, often respond positively. But not always.
A question repeated many times
This time I intend to write about the issue we are often faced with, unfortunately, in the undertone of sarcasm, disapproval, sometimes even condemnation.
I would not pay much attention to this issue, if it hadn’t been mentioned so often. I’ve heard it even 10 years ago, when I was with a group of laic missionaries preparing myself for a trip to the Argentine mission.
And maybe I would not have tapped the question, if a question would not have been raised by Catholics themselves, i.e. those who understand (or should understand) the meaning of the word catholic – universal.
I never respond to article comments, except on our blog. But if I had to respond, my answer to this question would be very simple.
God does not judge or divide
During his times, Jesus was one of the most liberal people in Israel.
He has not opposed the sinners, nor condemned prostitutes, he has not rejected the lepers, and he never commended his apostles to operate strictly inside Israel.
Mercy and help
On the other hand, Jesus spoke a lot about compassion, help for the poor, fulfilling the Father’s will and, as we know, with the whole being he confronted radical Pharisees – grandees and influencers of that time, who rejected and punished ‘sinners’, if they did not meet the stiff and rigid laws of Moses.
He opposed those who condemn, he tried to extend and deepen their sight. Has he succeeded?
A view from above
Looking out the airplane window, the world below seems considerably smaller than when one is standing on land. Logical. The laws of physics.
From such height, a hectare of land is approximately one centimeter long. And what would an astronaut say about observing the Earth form a space station? The Earth would look like a millimeter dot. Everything becomes a whole.
We are all part of same body
How could God see our society any other way but integrated?
In the Bible, the apostle Paul says that we are all limbs of one body. One body and one head. Things are interconnected, limbs act in coordinated, harmonious manner and each limb contributes to the movement and functioning of the whole body. Only then progress and growth are enabled.
You may see a person whose head works in one direction, mouth and legs in the other in the form of a typical politician. 🙂
Therefore, my answer to such question would be simple and brief:
“Jesus is not a nationalist.”
Personally, I do not believe that Jesus would ever ask such a question to anyone.
The man who follows the call will go anywhere, even thousands of miles away, even in an unknown or unpleasant culture. Even among prostitutes and homosexuals, among refugees and asylum seekers, homeless people, drug addicts and prisoners.
Jesus is not defined in a national way. And shh, I think he is not a right-winger either (but let this stay in our circles).
There are poor people everywhere
People in need can be found everywhere, of course. Even in our country. And the man who will respond to the call, may end right there, in front of his home. You really do not need to go far away to meet with the poor. I sincerely hope that people who trample upon the ‘helping the foreigners’ do have their hands full helping the poor back at home.
Yet, God’s view is different from ours. Above all, his plans differ from individual to individual.
A help is always mutual
Not only that God is constantly calling us to the poor but the poor are persistently called towards us. How can a matter dispute its Creator? God keeps us interconnecting. Isn’t this clearly visible right in current ages?
The more we are different from one another, the more we need to adapt and become more open to each other. Only then can we realize how precious we actually are.
Let them stay home!
Similarly to comment on helping the poor back home, the same individuals claim about refuggees:
‘For God’s sake, why do they want to come to Europe? We are different, they are different, let them stay there and we’ll all live in peace.’ In reality, we hear many remarks worse than that.
Pope Francis’ strainer
I am very sad when listening to criticism of Pope Francis. His call for openness and compassion towards refugees strongly divides the Catholic community lately.
Not long ago, we talked about it with some catholic women in Paris and earlier on the same subject with a man in Italy.
This is how they reacted: ‘I do not understand and accept the things Pope is doing! If he was advocating as much for us (o.p. Christians) as he is advocating for Muslims, the situation would be completely different!’
A look from above
Who says that the situation should be different nowadays?
Pope’s view is universal, catholic. And who says that by advocating for refugees he is not advocating for us all?
Furthermore, does Jesus divides people in a way that we are able to divide ourselves?
Things are interconnected! The one who needs help and the one who gives help, they are both receiving. If they are open to receive, of course.
God is calling us
Just as God can call a man to help the people of Madagascar or Nubia, so can God call the poor to travel on the other end of the world. For example, to our destination of ‘clean, unblemished and deeply faithful Europe’. Why is He doing this? Argentinians would often say: Dios Sabe (God knows).
It is important to meet Jesus
Let me finish the discussion. No matter where you approach the poor, at home or abroad, everywhere you meet with the wounded, discarded, ignored and marginalized Jesus.
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And no matter where this path leads us, to another end of the world or to a lonely neighbor, Jesus is everywhere and would like to meet with you! Why specifically at that spot and not somewhere else? God knows.
I am looking forward to your comments below. I Promise that we will be responding. 🙂