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Bread for All, Work for All, Dignity for All:
A Christian Revolution

A Pastoral Letter

Bishop James Alan Wilkowski
Evangelical Catholic Bishop for the Diocese of the Northwest

 

 

 

The Latin word “revolution” means to turn around, to take an opposite direction or make often drastic changes.

 

An infinite variety of reasons have been explored by historian presenting both justification for revolution as well as purely emotional and even irrational reasons for humankind’s behavior in this regard. Is there a “gold thread” as it was that has appeared in history which can shed some light on the causes of revolts?

 

It is necessary to travel back in time, perhaps tens of thousands of years to a time we call pre-history. Let’s look at a time when human population was small and our hunter gatherer ancestors were pretty much on their own in eking out an existence. There was a time when families joined together for their own survival. More and more families came together to form a clan, a group with the belief in the strength in numbers. Ultimately, there came a time when a structure was needed to address mutual issues. Nature was always a problem and it was much easier for a large group working together to provide protection and to insure food clothing and shelter be available.

 

Eventually, it became clear that a social structure was needed and leaders were selected as well as rules for living together. There came into existence what was called “the unwritten social contract”. This was a concept that stated that each individual would surrender some of his personal freedom so that there could be a harmonious social relationship. In order to receive assistance from the group, I will agree to abide by the rules, the structure of the group and I will be able to participate in the goods and services available to the members of the group. There was a group leader and members of a council responsible for organization of the distribution of goods and services as well as providing for the safety and protection of group members.

 

The unwritten social contract continued until society became so large that cities and city states emerged. The social contract needed to be amended as time passed, but the initial concept continued. “I will comply with the rules for which I will receive protection”. There came into being a greater chasm between the leaders and the ruling classes and the general public, the concept of greed came into being, the love of power and its ramifications also came into existence.

 

Historians tell us today that no one would have wanted to live in Europe during the dark ages. The need for rebellion was present on every hand. There was nothing profound about this, people in the main suffered from forces of nature as well as manmade oppression. The rich became more demanding and the poor were made to suffer. There was no social contract as such at this time, the rich and powerful controlled the masses ultimately, and rebellion was the only answer. Rebellion became a modus operandi. If you were not satisfied with your situation in life, you rebelled. Humankind began to see themselves as possessing power. They no longer saw the need for total compliance with the corrupt.

 

The Judeo-Christian religion talked about forgiveness, tolerance and understanding. It spoke of compassion and yet it became a means whereby those with a need for domination presented even greater needs for revolt.

 

The psychology of evil and oppression is a process of mental, physical and spiritual conditioning. Perhaps it is more appropriate to say, re-conditioning. The psychology of evil and oppression strikes at the very seed and growth process of the inner self.

 

The most dehumanizing act of evil is when one person does to another the intentional and absolute robbery of the self. To rob one of their faith, their history and their quest to dream, is greater than any prison created.

 

When society has no catalyst to defeat the powers of evil, it becomes a victim to a perpetual cycle of self defeat; while shaping the negative reality of present and future generations to come.

 

The era of American slavery of the African people, the holocaust of “Hitler’s” Germany against the Jews, the decimating apartheid regimes of European nations upon the original people of South Africa, the treatment of native Americans during the era of the American settlers, and the racist bigotry of American racism during the “Dread Scott Decision” and the “Jim Crow” era as they relate to African Americans—these are among the most egregious examples of the oppression demanding a social and spiritual revolution.

 

The path to a Christian Revolution is not an easy or direct one. It begins with its opposite, the evils of oppression, which is why liberation is necessary. The psychology and spirituality supporting a Christian Revolution must be built upon an understanding of the psychology of evil and oppression and it must systematically overcome each of its specific details and its supportive cultural context. The psychology and theology of a Christian Revolution is an internal development that issues from evil and oppression and transforms it.

 

When the majority of the people refuse to be fooled and intimidated any longer; when they refuse to stay on their knees; when they recognize the fundamental weakness of their oppressors, they can become transformed overnight from seemingly meek, subdued and helpless sheep into mighty lions. They strike, congregate, organize and especially demonstrate in the streets in increasing numbers, even in the face of massive, gruesome, bloody repression by the rulers, who still have a powerful armed apparatus at their disposal. They often show unheard of forms of heroism, self-sacrifice, obstinate endurance.  .

 

The premise of this essay is that in the course of human history it has been necessary for peoples to recognize and acknowledge the social, political and ecclesial failings of their time.  When attempts to make the necessary reforms or correction to the problems fail, then it becomes necessary for the people to take upon themselves the responsibility to revolt and overthrow the cancers within their society and institutions.

 

Each and every day the wheel of social evolution continues to move forward.  Sometimes people, out of fear, greed or simple ignorance, will attempt to put a piece of wood in the spokes of the wheel to prevent it from moving forward.  This jamming of the wheel might hold for a very brief period, but the power and force of the wheel will snap and break the impediment and lurch forward to where it needs to be.  The shock of the wheel lurching forward is akin to a social earthquake that can neither be ignored nor stopped.

 

As America enters into the thirteenth year of this new century our society struggles to cope with the pace of social change and evolution.  Change can be difficult for many people, especially those who are older and cling to the political and ecclesial models they grew up with.  Whenever American society has found itself living through periods of significant changes, we usually see three possible reactions:

 

People between the ages of 15 – 30   easy acclimations to change.

People between the ages of 30 – 60   more complaints about change.

People over the age of 60             more extreme resistance to change. 

 

For many of those who are entrenched in a model of society that is eroding away, change is anathema. The concepts of a President of African descent, the emerging economic and political power of the LGBT community, universal health care, alternative energy options – to name just a few, are concepts which provokes angry resentment and opposition.  During 2011 and 2012, we have witnessed the defiance of those in opposition to the fruits of American social evolution.  The body of the defiant opposition is actually part of the demographic minority of American society and, in theory, should not have any power to circumvent change and evolution.  Nevertheless, it is from this segment of society we find sitting in Congress, the Courts and the boardrooms of corporate America many of those who are in opposition to American social evolution – thus rendering American social progress hostage to their power.

 

In many ways the social and cultural evolution of American society is currently being stymied in an Apartheid-like stranglehold.

 

On the occasion of the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States in 2008, many sociologists, social commentators and political philosophers pronounced that secular American society had taken a quantum leap forward by its unprecedented election of a man of African decent.   Many predicted that the dreams of conquering social, political and economic racism had finally been achieved by fiat.  It became the hope that the memories of the violence done against the marchers in Selma in the 1960’s would be replaced with the implementation of the social doctrine of “We Are One.”

 

The social doctrine of “We Are One” has been generically viewed as the ending of the historic social inequities which have plagued our nation since the Philadelphia Convention which began in 1787 and ended with the ratification of the United States Constitution in 1788.  While the Constitution has been described as a document and political philosophy that would last into “remote futurity,” it has never been able to bridge the chasms between the rich and poor, the black person and the white, labor and management, the man and the woman and entities of evil and peace.  In the 224 years since the ratification of the Constitution, our national family has yet to overcome many of its inbreeded social sins which continue to perpetuate the existence of the above mentioned chasms.  

 

The lexicon of society and politics has been expanded by the use of percentages:  The 99%, which used throughout the U.S., is the expression that has come to reference people who share what is left of global wealth after corporate CEOs and the "richest one percent" have pocketed the bulk of profits, the 47% infamously used and applied by Mitt Romney during the presidential campaign and finally the distinction between Red and Blue states.

 

If anything, our recent presidential campaign has provided testimony as to how our social and political chasms continue to exist and even to grow. In the 1960 presidential campaign, John Kennedy had to contend with the issue of religious bigotry.  This bigotry was publicly crude and crass.  It was a reflection of its time.

 

Many bigots of that time were fearful that a Roman Catholic in the White House would be under the direction of the Vatican, and the Pope, and that the constitutional separation of church and state would be compromised. The campaign wanted to confront this perception in October but, when Reverend Norman Vincent Peale, the nation's most prominent Protestant columnist, opposed Kennedy's candidacy on religious grounds in September, both Kennedy and his key aides felt "the floodgates of religious bigotry" had been opened and that immediate action must be taken to stem the tide. On September 12, 1960, Kennedy, in his major attempt "to separate bigots from the honestly fearful," accepted an invitation to address 300 clergymen attending the Greater Houston Ministerial Association. In remarks replayed around the nation for the next seven weeks, Kennedy told his audience that he believed in an "America where the separation of church and state is absolute – where no Roman Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be a Roman Catholic) how to act and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote." He also then promised to prevent public office from being "humbled by making it an instrument of any religious group" and to resign the office should any spiritual conflict arise." While it did not remove anti-Catholicism from the campaign, Kennedy's performance in Houston helped turn a great deal of the attention back to the issues the candidates wanted to address. Most of anti-Catholic sentiment rested in border and Southern states, and his performance before southern clergy in a southern state helped stem this defection and allowed him to refocus his energies on the northeastern states critical to his victory.

 

In 2012 the bigots and fear-mongers within our society waged a smear campaign even more virulent against President Obama than JFK.  We need to concede the fact that the key to the anti-Obama orgy of hate rested on one issue and one issue only: race.  The challenge to the anti-Obama choir was how to side-step the N word and use equally ugly and repulsive synonyms or code-words in its place.

 

This challenge was achieved by implementing the call for the President’s birth certificate, questioning his religious affiliation and questions of past gang membership in Chicago.  These public gang-banging attacks on President Obama went morally lower than the attacks against President Andrew Johnson – which set the bar for the lowest and crudest of political campaigns against a presidential candidate.

 

In many aspects, the dreams of “We are One” social unity may have lasted as long as the confetti floated in the air on the night of Barack Obama’s election night in 2008.  As the children of the same God, we must not let that dream become of victim of moral infanticide. If our political, social and economic institutions are going to continue to be weighed down with the status quos which perpetuate the chasms preventing social unity, then it is time for a revolution – A Christian revolution providing bread for all, work for all and dignity for all. 

 

A revolution of redemption.

 

There are many parallels between our present time in history and the times of the people of Israel in the Hebrew Scriptures.  Then, as now, impediments to social justice and peace seem almost impregnable.  The hope is there, but how to fulfill it seems impossible.

 

Considering the political and social times in which they lived, it seems understandable that the people of Israel would have a vision of a Messiah that would be more of a political liberator rather than a spiritual one.  When the time came for God to intervene in human history, He did so by sending us His Son for redemption.

 

Prior to the start of His public ministry, Jesus grew up in a society plagued with many social injustices and prejudices.  He lived in a world fraught with problems and lived the life of one belonging to a marginalized class of people.  He understood the mindsets of the powerful and weak.  And when He began His public ministry, Jesus knew which words would be necessary to overcome the spiritual and psychological DNA of a subjugated people.

 

Jesus understood that collective bondage of sin being experienced by the people of Israel was not limited to how they fared in living the Ten Commandments.  Their souls and spirits were also victimized by the social sins of the day.  I believe that it can be said that the people of Judea lived in what we would call a system of political and social apartheid. 

 

Jesus began the process of breaking the chains of sin by inviting all who would listen to willingly embrace a revolution of redemption. Jesus provided the tools of self-empowerment to overcome their spiritual emaciation to rise up and choose justice, peace and love.  Through the power of his words and miracles, Jesus renewed the spiritually emaciated from within so they would have the power to break free from the chains binding them and to help save others from the same plight.  In contemporary terms, we would call this community building – one person at a time.

 

We must not forget the fact that the teaching of Jesus was not met with universal acceptance by the people.  Jesus often found His words thrown back into His face with contempt and ridicule by the elite and powerful.  Yet Jesus continued to be engaged in public debate with the Pharisees and Sadducees, two Jewish factions that opposed Him and his teachings. It was during one of these debates that Jesus stated the Greatest Commandment:

 

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" "The most important one” answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:28-31).

 

We must keep in mind that the understanding of "Love your neighbor as yourself" was part of the Old Testament law (Leviticus 19:18). But the Jewish teachers had often interpreted "neighbor" to include only people of their own nationality and religion. In Luke, the man who asked Jesus about the greatest of the commandments wanted justification for that interpretation, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" In response, Jesus told the famous Parable of the Good Samaritan. A Jewish man had been beaten by robbers and left half dead beside the road. Two different religious leaders passed by but did nothing to help. Finally, a Samaritan man came by and took pity on the injured man. He gave him water, patched up his wounds, put him on his own donkey and took him to an inn where he could rest and recover:

 

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live." But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise." (Luke 10:25-37 )

 

With that background, it is easy to understand that there was no one the Jewish expert in the law would have considered to be less of a "neighbor" than a Samaritan. If a Samaritan man could be a "neighbor" to the Jewish man who was robbed and beaten, then the definition of "neighbor" would have to include all people, regardless of race, religion, nationality or any other artificial distinction.

 

The Samaritan man gave freely of both his time and his money to help a Jewish man who was not only a stranger, but also was of a different religion, a foreigner and an enemy of his people. In His Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus challenges us to "Go and do likewise." We do not have to agree with other people's beliefs and opinions or condone their actions, but Jesus calls us to overcome our prejudices and show our kindness to all people of the world and consider them our "neighbors."

 

By the end of His arrest, Jesus had provided a spiritual avenue, for those willing to follow, for breaking free from all the chains and shackles of sin, darkness and hopelessness.  As Jesus faced His Passion, Death and Resurrection, it became time for others to carry on with the work of the redemptive revolution.

 

Acts 2:1-11

 

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,

they were all in one place together.

And suddenly there came from the sky

a noise like a strong driving wind,

and it filled the entire house in which they were.

Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,

which parted and came to rest on each one of them.

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit

and began to speak in different tongues,

as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

 

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem.

At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd,

but they were confused

because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,

"Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?

Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?

We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites,

inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,

Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,

Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene,

as well as travelers from Rome,

both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs,

yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues

of the mighty acts of God."

                                                  

1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13

 

Brothers and sisters:

No one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.

 

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;

there are different forms of service but the same Lord;

there are different workings but the same God

who produces all of them in everyone.

To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit

is given for some benefit.

 

As a body is one though it has many parts,

and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,

so also Christ.

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,

whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,

and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.  

 

Jn 20:19-23               

 

On the evening of that first day of the week,

when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,

for fear of the Jews,

Jesus came and stood in their midst

and said to them, "Peace be with you."

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.

The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you.

As the Father has sent me, so I send you."

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,

"Receive the Holy Spirit.

Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,

and whose sins you retain are retained."                              

 

 

Since receiving the “gift of tongues,” one would think that the redemptive revolution of Christianity would have long been fulfilled.  Obviously, that has never happened.  At some point in its journey, the Church’s mission of fulfilling the redemptive revolution came off the tracks and was overshadowed by a corrupt institution with leaders more concerned about their political powers and personal wealth than that of the care of the souls of the faithful and were content on keeping the masses of people ignorant and impoverished. 

 

Sounds like the predecessors to the 99% of today.

 

Buried deep within the human soul of every individual is the gene of Renaissance.  This gene becomes active when the human spirit recognizes and accepts the presence of evil and oppression in their society.  Without the benefits of education, I believe that God has infused our DNA with a basic understanding between basic rights and wrongs and for a natural capacity for goodness.  When writing his decision on pornography in Jacobellis v. Ohio, Associate Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said,

 

“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description ["hard-core pornography"]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.” 

 

Human history has taught of the origins and results from the era of the Reformation and while it is not necessary to review the catalogue of the specific details of that period, I believe it necessary for our purposes today to concede that where it not for the human desire for revolt from that which is evil and embrace that which is good and sacred.

 

A further concession to be made is to admit that despite all of the success and growth realized from the Reformation, we realized no social, cultural, political or theological vaccine to inoculate the descendants of the Reformation from repeating or enabling the same sins of the past from repeating themselves again.

 

As we enter 2013, it is incumbent upon us as a national family to “look into the mirror” to see the poison festering in the chasms of division within our society and to dust off the cobwebs on the spiritual tools we have to mount the Christian Revolution for justice, equality and peace in our world.

 

The Christian Revolution of Bread for All, Work for All and Dignity for All must share with other progressive social and theological movements an uncompromising hostility to all forms of domination – emotional violence and exploitation, sexism, racism, economic, political and so on.  The hallmark of our revolution must be its commitment to overcome the manifold forms of domination and exploitation in and through the self-emancipation of the spiritual person.

 

The Christian Revolution must not allow anyone to succumb to defeatism and accept the presence of evil in our society.  This revolution must work to eradicate all forms of racism, sexism, economic inequality, worker marginalization, educational inequality and poverty.  And should, God-willing we are able to extract these collective cancers from our society, we must be prepared to replace it with a Pauline based alternative.

 

The most important plank for the Christian Revolution must be the admission that we are “One Bread, One Body.”  Without this admission, the Christian Revolution will fail before it begins.  The second plank for the revolution must be its willingness to “think outside of the box.”  That is to think creatively, unimpeded by orthodox or conventional constraints.

 

In Hunger in America: 2012 United States Hunger and Poverty Facts, published by the World Hunger Education Service, we learn that “three years after the onset of the financial and economic crisis, hunger remains high in the United States. The financial and economic crisis that erupted in 2008 caused a dramatic increase in hunger in the United States.”

 

The Christian Revolution must bring about the collective concession that the United States is the “bread basket” of the world.  We have the capabilities of growing enough wheat, flour and corn to feed the world.  So why do we have members of our national family going to bed hungry at night?  It is a sinful outrage to let grain rot in their silos when members of our family died each day from hunger.  The needs of empty stomachs must always outweigh corporate profits. We must demand our government implement real and proactive programs to eliminate hunger.  We must no longer accept excuses for hunger, the Christian Revolution must demand redress.

 

We must make the argument that if we processed every ounce of grain we grow, it would keep the mills working and require them to hire more workers, who would then be contributing tax revenues back to the government and supporting the general economy.  We must also make the argument that if ever person could have a proper nutritional diet, public health care cost would be drastically reduced.  It is a psychological fact that starving people can become overwhelmed with desperation.  Would it not make more sense to feed the hungry before they choose to commit serious crimes for food?  It costs more to incarcerate than to feed someone who would not have to turn to crime for food.

 

The Christian Revolution must heed its call to the cause of the unemployed and workers’ rights in our country.  One of great mistruths is that advances in technology have reduced the number of jobs in our country, thus contributing to the numbers of those who cannot find work.  Not so.  Outsourcing of American jobs to foreign countries is one of major factors causing American unemployment.  This, coupled with companies having their products manufactured in foreign countries for sale here contributes to the decimation of American labor.  The Christian Revolution must demand American corporations to “first-hire” from the American labor pool.  For those companies and corporation that refuse to end their practices of outsourcing and importing good made in foreign countries, the Christian Revolution must adopt the Gandhian principle of non-engagement.  Do no business with companies who are either hostile or indifferent to the American worker and remind them of the fate of the Montgomery Public Transportation Company in 1955-56.

 

It must also be said that the Christian Revolution must demand unconditional workers’ rights.  The right to collective bargaining must be a universal right in this country and must never be allowed to be discounted or denied to working men and women.  No honorably working person should fear any forms of exploitation, marginalization or  discrimination. 

 

The Christian Revolution must take action against racism in our society.  The 2012 presidential election witnessed a rearmed resurgence of both crude and sophisticated forms of racism.  We all accept the Constitutional facts of the Fist Amendment protecting free speech, but there is an option for the Revolution to adopt to censure racists.

 

Again using the Gandhian principle of non-engagement, an example would be the case of John Sununu, former Governor of New Hampshire, and a leading spokesperson for the Republican National Committee during the recent presidential campaign.  During a television interview prior to the election, Governor Sununu damned Colin Powell’s endorsement of President Obama.  Governor Sununu claimed that the only reason why General Powell was endorsing President Obama was because “he is black.” Governor Sununu is currently the President of JHS Associates, Ltd.  a consulting firm located in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire.  Implementing the Gandhian principle of non-engagement would have us identify the clients of JHS Associates, Ltd. and publicly boycott their companies until they disconnect from Sununu’s company.  Bullies and bigots hate having their wallets grow empty.

 

Ann Coulter is another individual who promotes bigotry and division via her contract with Fox News.   Again, using the Gandhian principle of non-engagement, a public boycott of companies who sponsor Ann Coulter’s Fox New segments would be a very effective response to those who choose to promote public racism and hate.

 

While the Christian Revolution cannot prevent racist words and hate words from being used by citizens, it can impact the economic rewards earned by racists and hate mongers.

 

Our Catholic spirituality and sacramental life demands that the Christian Revolution must advocate the basic human rights and dignity of every man, woman and child.

 

Society often engages in acts of marginalization and oppression towards “minorities.”  Those who engage in these acts do so knowing that the socially weak and marginalized are usually unable to protect themselves from these attacks.  When the powerful use code-words of hate and bigotry against the minorities of our society, they not only inflict harm to these people, but they also invite and encourage others to act against them.

 

The Christian Revolution must change the collective mind of society from thinking in terms of groups or classes, for if we are true to Pauline theology we must begin to think of our national family as an inclusive body and not segregated.  Our revolution must protect the God-given rights to live where they wish, embrace any vocation, marry whom they love, enjoy food, clothing and shelter and contribute to the building of the Kingdom of God on earth.

 

The Christian Revolution must also protect every person from any and all forms of physical and political violence.  This revolution must address the scandal and scourge of gun violence in our national society.  Our communities and neighborhoods have for too long been infected by the presence of assault firearms.  The Christian Revolution must act to stem the rising tide of murders in our society and the elimination of assault firearms is the first and only obvious step to take.

 

The Christian Revolution must continue to remain vigilant for any acts of political violence against our national family.  In the recent presidential elections, we sadly saw some of our states attempt to enact laws and policies aim at suppressing targeted minorities from participating in the recent elections.  We see attempts by the political community to impede or undermine the rights of gender-common couples to marry and to enjoy the rights which come with marriage.  In our schools we celebrate the Jeffersonian principle of “all being created equal” and yet we continue to do violence against so many by denying them their equal rights.  It is hypocritical to profess a philosophy, yet not make it an unconditional reality.

 

Much violence is inflected upon the human dignity of those who are not permitted to partake of an proper education.  The Christian Revolution must call for the nationalization of the American primary and secondary educational system to ensure that all schools reflect and uphold a consistent model and standards of academic norms for each and every child throughout the country.  The current inadequacies plaguing our national educational system disenfranchise way too many of our children from achieving the necessary academic tools for success. 

 

The ultimate goal of this Christian Revolution must be work for the welfare and well-being of all people.  John Kennedy once said that the “problems of the world are man-made and man can also find the solutions.”

 

God, out of timeless eternity, created the heavens and the earth, and then ceased His creative activity, and rested (Genesis 2:1-2). "And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good" (Genesis 1 :31)

 

God chose to delegate to humankind stewardship over His creation. Christian stewardship begins with willing obedience to the great commandment: "You shall love the Lord your God with all you heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37). "We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19). Stewardship grows out of love for God. The steward's love for God is nourished by his remembrance of Calvary, where the great lover of our souls provided the ultimate demonstration of stewardship in His submission to the One He served (Philippians 2:5, 9).

 

God has allowed the creation to be subjected to the futility of sinful mankind, but He loves the creation. In Colossians 1:16,20, we read that in Christ "all things were created, both in the heavens and the earth...He is before all things, and in Him all things consist". And it was the purpose of the Father that this same Christ should "reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." The incarnation, humanity, suffering, and death of Christ demonstrate God's love for souls and the created order within which each soul is embedded—the flesh of man, the creatures, and the life-sustaining environment. Even under the curse of sin, the wisdom and greatness of God is evident in the marvelous design and function of the human body and the bodies of various plants, animals, and microbes. Each species has been woven by the Creator into a complex tapestry of life with many intricate interrelationships necessary for their survival. The steward who loves the Creator (John 1: 1-3), Sustainer (Colossians 1 :17), and Redeemer (Colossians 1:18-20) is moved by the indwelling Spirit to love what God loves, and to live in harmony with his neighbor and the created order which is being sustained by God. The steward views his responsibility to love and care for the creation as an important part of God's redemptive plan.

 

The Word Became Flesh    Jn:1: 1-14

 

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

 

6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

 

9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

 

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

To be good stewards in the eyes of God, I believe that we must strive to be and live as “one body” and not permit minorities of evil to employ an apartheid-like mentality to impregnate that which is holy with that which is of evil.

 

I also believe that to be authentic participants in the Christian Revolution, we must be prepared to unconditionally to take up our crosses:

 

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.  (Luke 9:23)

 

Many think this means bearing burdens and suffering hardships for the Lord. Surely such hardships will at times be required, but there is a fuller meaning if we consider this empowerment of stewardship.

 

Hence, "taking up your cross" refers to giving your whole life to God, as Jesus was about to give His life for us. This involves bearing burdens, but it is deeper than that. It is a total dedication to the Christian life and the fight against all agents and acts of evil. Our whole life is given to this Revolution. This will lead us to willingly deny self. Following Him then requires us to live as He lived His life (I Pet. 2:21; Matt. 10:34,35; I Cor. 11:1).

 

Luke adds "take up your cross daily" (Luke 9:23). There is a sense in which Christians must give their lives to God every day. This is not necessarily a physical death as Jesus died for us, though such might be required, but a daily total sacrifice of self to do the will of Jesus. Whatever He wants with our lives is what must be done with them.  Cf. Rom. 12:1,2; Gal. 2:20; I John 3:16-18; Matt. 6:19-33; Gal. 5:24; Rom. 6:6-23; 2 Tim. 2:11; 2 Cor. 4:11; Ecc. 12:13.

 

Human history has taught us that all revolutions have one common element – a physical reaction to something which has been deemed to have become intolerable.  This Christian Revolution also requires a physical reaction.  Because we have been baptized into His passion, we must be prepared to embrace the model of the Good Shepherd:

 

11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf  snatches them and scatters them.  13 He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, 15 as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one  shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.  18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father." 19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, "He has a demon, and he is mad; why listen to him?" 21 Others said, "These are not the sayings of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"  (Jn:10: 11-21)

 

The Hebrew Scriptures often speaks of God as shepherd of his people, Israel. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want (Psalm 23:1). Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! (Psalm 80:1) We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture (Psalm 100:3). The Messiah is also pictured as the shepherd of God's people: He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms (Isaiah 40:11). Jesus says he is the Good Shepherd who will risk his life to seek out and save the stray sheep (Matthew 18:12, Luke 15:4). He is the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls (1 Peter 2:25). Jesus made three promises to his followers. He promised them everlasting life. If they accept him and follow him, they will have the life of God in them. Jesus also promised them a life that would know no end. Death would not be the end but the beginning; they would know the glory of indestructible life.

 

On April 16, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote a letter while in jail in Birmingham Alabama arguing that individuals have the moral duty to disobey unjust laws.  He said in his letter, We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly I have never yet engaged in a direct action movement that was "well timed," according to the timetable of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This "wait" has almost always meant "never." We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that "justice too long delayed is justice denied." 

 

This is what gave strength and comfort to all those who have died in the pursuit of building up the Kingdom of God on Earth.  It was their light – a light that enabled them to plant the seeds of hope and goodness in each of us.  It was their light that led them to the Kingdom in Heaven.

 

We Christians understand the responsibility of the gift of light.  Let that shine brightly on the road we need to travel to fulfill our Christian Revolution.

 

 

Let us Pray -

 

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in the day of battle.
Be our safeguard against the
wickedness and the snares of the devil.

May God rebuke him we humbly pray
and do thou O Prince of the Heavenly Host,
cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl throughout the world
seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen

 

-  The Prayer of Saint Michael

 


Respectfully Yours in Christ,

Evangelical Catholic Bishop for the Diocese of the Northwest

Chicago, Illinois

 January 1st, 2013

The Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God

 

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