Who is feeling the pinch most?

  The present world economic turmoil is like that biblical mourning veil in Isaiah covering all peoples since there is such an air of gloom about. However the present collapse in confidence in the banking system and the downturn in the global economy is not the talking point of the people of Somalia, Sudan, Darfur, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are struggling from day to day for the basics of clean water, food and medical care while also coping with the reality that they have been forced from their homes because of conflict and unrest. In the current Trócaire campaign we are challenged to focus on the needs of families such as that of Arab Mohammad who live at the Bellet Amin settlement where hundreds of displaced people are living. Many people there are forced into Kenya or Ethiopia to try to earn a little money by washing clothes for others, gathering firewood or begging. They do get some food aid but it is not enough to feed the family. Their nearest water source is 3 km away and there is no sanitation in the camp. Many people worry that charities which depend on generous public donations will suffer now. What an indictment on us if we stop giving to those in need because we have to cut back on our luxuries? Remember the widow’s mite – the woman who gave not out of her excess but from all that she had. What we need at this time is to take stock not just of what the current crisis means for us and our families but to view through the eyes of Christ the situation facing the most vulnerable people in the world. Perhaps it is time to establish a new covenant with the people of the developing world similar to the prophecy of Jeremiah We need a pioneering spirit to address the difficulties that face our society at this time. The bottom is falling out of the world of money but at the same time we carry a treasure worth more than gold itself which is the Christian message. Love, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, honesty and justice constitute the currency of our faith which is only devalued when we fail to live up to the principles by which we are called to live that faith. We are all invited to share in the Christian mission here and now. Those of us who put our Christian calling on the back burner while we deal with our own material matters have missed the point. We are invited to look at the present economic crisis today from a Christian perspective. The eternal banquet promised at the end of time where everything will be as it should be is one which we all are asked to help prepare. Our lives are the ingredients that make up that eternal meal which are made up of the Christian values we have just mentioned – love, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, honesty and justice. A balanced meal is one that nourishes at all levels of our lives. We book our place at that table by the way we live today. The measure we give out is the measure we receive in time. The ritual meal which is at the centre of Christian living is the Eucharist. May our celebrations of the Eucharist in Lent be modelled on the Last Supper, as recounted by John, firmly based on the notion of service as symbolised by the washing of feet. As we face into difficult economic waters let those of us who have plenty remember those who have very little. Let us put our situation into perspective and give thanks to God for what we have. At that sacred banquet may we sit there side by side with the many people who have less of this world’s resources than we have at this time.

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