So much of life today is deeply disturbing, especially our attitudes toward poverty and peace. I can’t understand the irony of how we seek peace by going to war. Our impulse toward war uncovers our erroneous belief that some people are not important, that some lives, even the lives of some children (the children of our enemies), are expendable. I can’t understand how we are undisturbed by the reality that more than 20,000 children die every day from preventable diseases, most stemming from hunger. The economic downturn that is dramatically damaging the lives of the poor reveals the utter lack of moral and ethical constraints on capitalism and consumerism; and the unbridled greed of commodity hucksters is nothing short of idolatry. We have become so numbed by the scope of poverty, as well as by our own self-interest, we don’t even feel the pain of the other, don’t realize their misery is also our misery. As a society we have failed to understand that our lives are both interior and relational, that we are designed for communion with God and each other. Our lives have become impoverished because we do not value simplicity, do not realize what is truly essential, and do not reach out to the chronically poor and rejected.

I think St. Francis of Assisi came to see clearly that the fundamental principle of the Gospel requires that the weakest and least presentable people are indispensable to the Church, that the followers of Christ must be in communion with the poor and must be willing to love our enemies. Each of us is wounded in some way; each of us is an enemy. We need each other, and we need God.


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