In this year’s Urbi et Orbi Easter message Pope Francis said, “In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death. . . . That is why we tell everyone: ‘Come and see!’ In every human situation, marked by frailty, sin and death, the Good News is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love: it is about leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast… ‘Come and see!’: Love is more powerful, love gives life, love makes hope blossom in the wilderness.
He went on to list the many circumstances where people are crushed by evil in all its varied forms, robbing of them hope, among them: “those lost in the labyrinths of loneliness and marginalisation… those victimized by old and new forms of slavery, inhuman labour, illegal trafficking, exploitation and discrimination… those forced to leave their homelands as a result of armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, famine and oppressive regimes.”
The gift of the Holy Spirit is God’s power to love unconditionally and to transform the world by that power. It is the power of God’s justice poured out upon us to be just to everyone. The theme of this year’s Quest conference is Act Justly and Love Mercy. Still to this day LGBT Christians face exclusion through language, denial of pastoral care, inhospitality, and hostility. Thirty years ago the climate was even less favourable and yet, as the 2014 film Pride reminded us, in 1985-86 an alliance of courageous lesbians and gay men came together to support the striking miners. It reminds us that in the power of the Spirit we must look beyond ourselves to others who suffer: the homeless, the sick, persecuted Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere, etc. Our own struggle may be far from over, but that should not deter us from coming to the defence of others who are oppressed.
Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.
Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium.
For more information about Catholic Social Teaching, visit the website: www.catholicsocialteaching.org.uk