Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Inequality
The gap between the wealthy, developed countries of the world and the so called third world is a frightening spectacle. Only one thing would be more frightening and that would be for the developed countries to remain indifferent to this problem. Through its various agencies - St. Vincent de Paul, Hospitals, Schools and other welfare agencies - the‚‚  Churches‚‚  have recognised this need. As always, however, the need continues to outstrip the response.‚‚  The feeding of the hungry in the first and third readings of today's Mass reminds us that a Christian response requires that we should be concerned at this gap.

2 Kings 4:42-44:‚‚  The Elijah story sets the pattern for the Gospel reading - 1. Food is brought to the man of God; 2. the amount of food is stated; 3. the quantity is perceived to be inadequate; 4. ignoring the objection, the man of God distributes the food; 5. the food is eaten and there is some left over.

Ephesians 4:1-6:‚‚  Continues Paul's call to the Christian community at Ephesus, made up of different backgrounds, to show in their everyday behaviour the kind of unity expected of disciples who name Christ as their leader.

John 6:1-15: The feeding of the multitude is seen as a prelude to the Eucharist, the heavenly Food. But it was also a critical turning point in Christ's mission when He made it clear that His mission was a spiritual one, not political.

Point 1:‚‚ ‚‚ Despite the enormous demands that the fight against terrorism is making on the economies of the free world, it is heartening to hear the leaders of the most powerful countries in the world continuing to voice their concern for the poorer countries. Indeed, it can be argued that the root cause of terrorism is the inequality existing between the wealthy and the poor of the world; an inequality brought about, in many instances, by exploitation and injustice; an inequality that generates the anger and hatred motivating the terrorists. Pope Benedict, in his encyclical "Caritas in Veritate", speaks on this problem and, as a first step towards its solution, states that "The economy needs ethics in order to function correctly, not any ethics whatsoever, but an ethics which is people-centred." The Australian Bishops' call for "A Year Of Grace" "We're on about Christ"! echoes this appeal.‚‚  He asks that the wealthy nations should remit the massive debts owed by the developing countries. I believe that this concern reflects a growing consciousness amongst people that efforts must be made to lessen the gap between the wealthy and the poor. In the past there has been an appalling indifference by individuals and Society, be they civil or church, to this inequality; and it is good to see this indifference being replaced by real concern.‚‚  The best informed among us no longer accept the pessimistic view that the problem is too big. For the first time in the human history, the world, technically, has the capability to feed its people. It remains for the organisation, the administration and the financial resources to grow to meet the demand.
Remission of the world debt, although not a total solution, would be a step in the right direction. Another step, advocated by the US President Abaca Obama, is to introduce and to train indigenous peoples to use modern production methods. The point of the exercise is not to have all people reduced to equality; that can never work! But, we do need to act against excessive inequality.

Point 2: We can seek to exonerate ourselves from this problem of inequality in a variety of ways. Firstly by being totally selfish -"It's not my fault that they live in poverty; let them help themselves as I had to!" Or by being cynical -"some corrupt official will squander my contribution"! Or we can argue that the problem is too big for a solution to be had! Our Christian thinking informs us that social justice is at the very foundation of Christian practice.

Conclusion: The first demand on us as Christians is that we try. Then, too, there is the thought that we cannot constantly partake of the Eucharistic food and remain indifferent to hunger around the world, any more than Christ did. The ultimate evaluation of our lives' worth will be determined by how we reacted to those in need "as often as you did it to one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it to Me".

Scriptural reference: "Anyone who says I love God and disregards his neighbour is a liar; since the man who does not concern himself with his neighbour whom he can see, cannot love God whom he cannot see" [John 20:21]