There appears to me to be Two Worlds- not a First, Second and so-called Third World- as is commonly distinguished in economic developmental terminology. The Two World are not essentially economic divides- but the world of health, wealth and “happiness” ,and the other world of sorrows, grief, pain, sickness, poverty.
When I asked my students if they believed that rich people in America suffer, they immediately responded in the affirmative. Rich Americans suffer loss of loved ones, they fight sicknesses, they can be hurt on multiple levels. But when you are pretty solid in your status being of good health, decent finances, and general glaze of contentedness- this is your time of testing in ways we don’t always consider- we all point at downturns as our times of testing- but I think that times of material/physical blessing are equally challenging for our spiritual well-being.
If Christ died for me, then it should be nothing for me to return Him my all. And if He identifies Himself with the poor and the suffering in this world- then it should be a given that I naturally follow Him into that world. It could mean mission work, it could be political/charity action/donation, it could be prayer time, it could be the offering up of some of our minor pains/discomforts/sicknesses in unity with the redemptive sufferings of Our Lord for the sake of those in deep zones of physical/moral sufferings.
The one thing I cannot do is just turn my back to that second world- it isn’t at the end of the day an economic class analysis, it is an Incarnational analysis based upon the example and teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church. I will continue to work on cultivating a vision that is fully imbued with as many of these teachings as I can contain and retain and allow for Holy Spirit inspiration to flow through my spiritual veins. This week was a week of sickness striking down about every member of my little home tribe, one by one, including myself. I drew upon “offering up” prayers for my real and vicarious sufferings to address my own need for expiation of sins, but also for graces to flow out through my family and into that world of human suffering to go where only God knows to go.
I feel inspired to keep going at it when it comes to addressing the whole range of deficiencies in our culture that lead to broad acceptance of abortion and abortifacients. I am also very disturbed over the general acceptance of global sweatshop economics, and I am going to keep hammering away at this issue as well. I have included in my students’ research papers a section where they are free to present a case for the current situation of sweatshop labor- as long as their intentions are good- if someone says- it is good because I don’t care about “those” unseen people who make my stuff- well that isn’t going to cut it in a Catholic classroom. At minimum we have to be people of goodwill, if we don’t have that prior motivation then I don’t think branding yourself a Catholic is accurate.
In the coming weeks I will begin a new series based specifically on authoritative Church documents looking at how we might have to categorize certain teachings and prudential judgment and counsel as “liberal” or “conservative” by our American political categorical imperative standards. I would like to blow some holes in our commonplace ideologies and try to help take American Catholics to higher ground- beyond the ideological ‘heroes’ of our current political landscape. But for now, just take this beautiful song and message to heart and consider how we are all moving from First World to Second and back again, and in our good times we need to praise and thank God, and also turn some of our attentions to the rest of humanity where there is always a tremendous level of suffering right now being experienced. As Fr.Corapi once said- when he met God He discovered that His name was Mercy.