When Jesus began his ministry, he announced that he had come to bring good news to the poor and to proclaim the year of the Lord, the year of Jubilee when wealth will be redistributed (Luke 4:18, 19). Jesus spent most of his time among the poorest of the land, teaching, healing and restoring them to full inclusion in their community. Jesus directly confronted the economic inequality of his day.
One of the most refreshing things about Pope Francis is the way in which he has placed this message at the centre of his ministry:
“Christians are called to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it.”
What are the inequalities we need to confront today? But more than that, do we have a vision of the kind of ‘Good Society’ we would want to live in, and help to bring about? In a world characterised by increasing individualism, can we find ways of reconciling our own interests with those of others, within a broader vision of the ‘Good Society? In what ways is our quality of life connected together, or our wellbeing and happiness connected with that of others? What connects poverty in the UK and in the ‘global south?’ What are we to make of the growth of food poverty and hunger on our own doorstep? How can we listen to and amplify the voices and stories of those directly affected by the myths and stigma associated with poverty?
Whatever answers we may come up with, is it not worth debating such fundamental issues – issues which take us far beyond mere party politics to the very foundations upon which our society is built?
Can we build a Good Society together in 2015?
If you haven’t already done so, why not download the resources to reflect on these issues on Church Action on Poverty Sunday – 15 February 2015?
Church Action on Poverty