Monday, August 10, 2015

Dabbling in Communism?

Among the conservative commentators in Korea, like in the States, we have those who feel  Pope Francis is dabbling in Communism with his criticism of capitalism and what it is doing to the poor. In an article in the Now Here Catholic News Website, the issue was visited and explained to the readers by a priest sociologist.

What is being said is what the Church teaches, and it goes back to the time of the apostles. The early church was very much on the side of the poor. In the Old Testament, Sabbath day thinking, and the Jubilee were  the windows through which the  Israelites looked upon society. Jesus criticized the formalistic way in which the Sabbath was accepted and the way the poor were oppressed. Sabbath was for the people and not people for the Sabbath.
Not only did the Jews have the Sabbath but also every 7th year all the land would be given a chance to rest--not only persons but animals and all of creation. And every 7th Sabbath you had the Jubilee year in which all would return to the default situation  when the land was first distributed among the twelve tribes. Slaves were freed, debts were absolved and they returned to a condition they experienced 50 years previous -- Israelites were given a new start.

Wealthy people  were able to determine the culture of the times but the Jubilee Year was the way injustices of one generation would not be passed on to the next.  Jesus at the beginning of his public life proclaimed this Jubilee Year as the blue print for his teaching. No longer something you had to wait for every 50 years, but the way he wanted to function in society and desired his Church to continue-- one of the reasons established society hated Jesus, and wanted to get rid of him.

Sabbath, Sabbatical year and the Jubilee were the ways God wanted to return to the time of creation, a new recovery from the corruptions of the day to a just society. This was Jesus' mission and  his message. Pope Francis' message is also the same. Poverty and inequality in society are not coming from economics in itself, but from the system and laws made by the elite of society. Law of the Sabbath turns this upside down. Regulations of the Sabbath, and the Jubilee Year shows us how God gives freely of the gifts for our good in making for a just, harmonious and a society of mutual support.

"The precepts of the sabbatical and jubilee years constitute a kind of social doctrine in miniature. They show how the principles of justice and social solidarity are inspired by the gratuitousness of the salvific event wrought by God, and that they do not have a merely corrective value for practices dominated by selfish interests and objectives, but must rather become, as a prophecy of the future, the normative points of reference to which every generation in Israel must conform if it wishes to be faithful to its God (#25, Compendium of the  Social Doctrine of the Church).

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