Coming thick and fast these preaching practice sessions! Here's the first draft for the 4th Sunday of Lent, Gospel Yr B. Should last for about 6 mins tops.
The 4th Sunday of Lent is a time to refresh ourselves a little. But my friends, in reality, there is little refreshment for those who must experience the sharpest end of the Government’s austerity measures. Today like many days, is a perpetual Lent for them, with no mid point of rejoicing or even a hopeful end in site.
Two years ago the Bishops published a document called Choosing the Common Good to present key themes in Catholic Social Teaching. The Bishops argue that social issues cannot be left only to Government to solve, but are the responsibility of all. The document was named after the foundational principle in CST known as the Common Good. By this principle is meant “the sum total of social conditions, which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily’. Key elements are the equal dignity of all persons and the idea of solidarity, that sense that we are responsible for each other, that we really are, all in it together. That’s why we pray ‘Our Father’ and not ‘My Father.’ And this is why the inequalities of wealth in our society are an abomination and an affront to the Almighty God and Father of us all. What is his concern, must be ours.
It is important to highlight the Common Good at this time because, as Jesus says in the Gospel , “though the light has come into the world men have shown that they prefer darkness to the light because their deeds were evil.“
As Christians we must continually be on our watch that we have not become soft and part of 'the world,’ contaminated by its poisonous values, based on wealth, success at the expense of others, fame and celebrity. We must be on our guard that we have not become part of the darkness or live in a compromised hinterland of shadows, where we can get by, passively accepting the lies peddled about the poor, and not doing anything to resist the rhetoric or alleviate their suffering.
Only a couple of weeks ago a story appeared that did not seem to produce much outrage. It was a story released on the same day that the Occupy camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral was cleared, and concerned Barclays Bank. Barclays was ordered by the Treasury to pay half-a-billion pounds in tax, which it had tried to avoid. And this was after the bank had signed a code committing them not to engage in tax avoidance. Hypocrites and robbers of the poor! Is that the Common Good my friends? Is that an exercise in solidarity? Is that an example of human dignity at its best, to attempt to cheat the taxman out of a considerable sum of money that could be used for the gain of society at large? Jesus said, “men have shown they prefer darkness to the light.”
The recent eviction of the ‘Occupy’ camp at St Paul’s cathedral provides us with a useful prompt to examine consciences on this matter of the Common Good, especially during the Lenten season, to ensure that unwittingly we do not prefer the dark to the light or facilitate its spread. It is worthy of note that the eviction took place at night, the hours of darkness.
Archbishop Vincent has previously said that the protest had given a voice to concerns that the financial burden of attempts to tackle the deficit was being, "very unfairly felt and distributed". As an example of the urgency of the situation, in the UK, 4 million children - one in three - are currently living in poverty, one of the highest rates in the industrialised world. This is a shocking figure given the wealth of our nation and will be made worse, by the burden of stringent austerity measures.
At its core ‘Occupy’ was about fundamental matters of social justice, about the Common Good - a logical extension of the preaching of the Gospel. It’s message was clear: the system of governance in this country is loaded against the poor and stacked in the interests of the rich. This is not the politics of envy or class warfare my friends, but a simple critique from the perspective of the Common Good.
The Gospel message is subversive. The living Gospel of Jesus Christ takes this whole crazy- mad sinful world, so contrary to the will of the Father in its inequalities of wealth and opportunity, and turns it upside down putting it the right way up!
Therefore we, as Christ’s disciples should be less accepting of the inequalities that exist in society, especially if we are amongst the few who remain reasonably comfortable. That means taking a more questioning stance with the elites in this country, whether they are political, financial or other. We need to consider becoming more assertive in the public sphere as champions of the Common Good in bold and appropriate ways.
As Christians, let our guiding principle and measure for how society treats the poor, for whom God has a preference, always be the Common Good, so that we show we prefer the light to the darkness and that it is plainly seen that what we do is done in God.