Restoring Dignity to the Excluded

The following article is a weekly reflection from the Franciscan Action Network on the reading of the 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time.

The encyclical Laudato Si describes many of the crises regarding God’s creation, a creation which is depicted by the author of the book of Wisdom as “loved by God and embracing God’s imperishable spirit.” (Wis. 11:24, 12:1) However, in the encyclical the Pope adds “We are faced …with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.”(Laudato Si, 139)

In our Gospel, Saint Luke tells of Jesus “restoring dignity to the excluded.” Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector, pocketed funds collected from the people and is rejected by society. Jesus treats Zacchaeus with respect and dignity; Zacchaeus is transformed and acts to restore relations with those he has cheated. “If I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Zacchaeus also vows to do what he can so that others have what they need to live with dignity “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor.” (LK 19:8)

In Laudato Si, the Pope speaks of integral ecology as a new model of justice, which presumes that social injustice is not independent from the environmental crisis, but that they are related. How we act towards any human being is how we treat the rest of God’s creation and how we act towards creation is how we treat each other.

As we prepare to cast our vote for our next President we may ask, where are the strategies to combat poverty, to restore dignity to the excluded or to care for God’s creation? No matter who wins the election, we are called as followers of Jesus to exercise faithful citizenship that considers the care of our one and only Earth as well as the care of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters, with whom we share our Earth.

Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF, is a FAN Board Member

Suggested Action:

This week, pay attention to how much media around the elections is focused on strategies to combat poverty, to restore dignity to the excluded or to care for God’s Creation.

Suggested Petitions:

May we recognize that our lives are bestowed by the Lord and express our love of Him by caring for our brothers and sisters, we pray…

May we recognize that all life is bestowed by the Lord and express our love of Him by caring deeply for our Mother Earth, we pray…

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