When I was growing up as a teenager I had a poster with a quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu on it. It said “Whoever says religion and politics don’t mix must be reading a different Bible to me.” I admired his conviction, vitality and commitment to doing the right thing even in the face of extreme adversity and challenge. He went on to show great leadership and integrity in leading the new chapter in South Africa and healing the deep wounds of the apartheid era. He chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and wept with those who had suffered and used his faith to ask for God to bring forgiveness and reconciliation to all involved.
We are challenged to move beyond a theoretical faith based in us sitting in orderly rows in a Church once a week to a living faith that has a positive impact on the world in which we live in today.
In the reading from Luke’s Gospel in this week’s reading we hear a compelling vision of how we should act as Christians inspired and changed by faith to;
- bring Good News to the poor
- proclaim liberty to captives
- bring sight to the blind
- set the downtrodden free
- proclaim the Lord’s year of favour or jubilee
In the Catholic community we are currently celebrating the Year of Mercy as prompted by Pope Francis. I have been inspired by the example of Pope Francis who has transformed the image of the Catholic church through the smallest steps and his example of humility in his actions. This is the Pope who refused to travel in limousines but instead adopted a Fiat 500 in a recent trip to the USA.
He washes the feet of those rejected by society at Easter and challenges the misconceptions and prejudices from within the Church and beyond. Our own ordained Chaplain, Fr Vlad, talked about how we should create an “Oasis of Mercy” from our school community.
We don’t have to move look far afield to find a real need to show our humanity. Door to door I can travel 116 miles and find “The Jungle” in Calais where we truly can discover many facing a desolate situation and very real challenges for us today. As a community we have looked to support refugees in Calais, Dunkirk and families arriving in Brighton. Of course there are needs closer to home in our local communities due to poverty and homelessness.
So this week let’s all commit to looking to ensuring that faith is about being a force for freedom, justice and peace in the world. If we can do this surely we can have a living faith that’s simply a source of love and hope for those that we meet.