IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, HERE IS AN EXCERPT FROM BONO’S ADDRESS TO THE NATIONAL PRAYER BREAKFAST IN WASHINGTON D.C. LAST MONTH:
“One of the things that I picked up from my father and my mother was the sense that religion often gets in the way of God. For me, at least, it got in the way. Seeing what religious people, in the name of God, did to my native land…and in this country, seeing God’s second-hand car salesmen on the cable TV channels, offering indulgences for cash…in fact, all over the world, seeing the self-righteousness roll down like a mighty stream from certain corners of the religious establishment…
“I must confess, I changed the channel. I wanted my MTV. Even though I was a believer. Perhaps because I was a believer. I was cynical…not about God, but about God’s politics.
“Then, in 1997, a couple of eccentric, septuagenarian British Christians went and ruined my shtick – my reproachfulness. They did it by describing the millennium, the year 2000, as a Jubilee year, as an opportunity to cancel the chronic debts of the world’s poorest people. They had the audacity to renew the Lord’s call – and were joined by Pope John Paul II, who, from an Irish half-Catholic’s point of view, may have had a more direct line to the Almighty.
“‘Jubilee’ – why ‘Jubilee’? What was this year of Jubilee, this year of our Lord’s favour? I’d always read the scriptures, even the obscure stuff. There it was in Leviticus (25:35): ‘If your brother becomes poor,’ the scriptures say, ‘and cannot maintain himself…you shall maintain him…. You shall not lend him your money at interest, not give him your food for profit.’ It is such an important idea, Jubilee, that Jesus begins his ministry with this. Jesus is a young man, he’s met with the rabbis, impressed everyone, people are talking. The elders say, he’s a clever guy, this Jesus, but he hasn’t done much…yet. He hasn’t spoken in public before…
“When he does, is first words are from Isaiah: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,’ he says, ‘because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.’ And Jesus proclaims the year of the Lord’s favor, the year of Jubilee (Luke 4:18). What he was really talking about was an era of grace – and we’re still in it.
“So fast-forward 2,000 years. That same thought, grace, was made incarnate – in a movement of all kinds of people. It wasn’t a bless-me club… it wasn’t a holy huddle. These religious guys were willing to get out in the streets, get their boots dirty, wave the placards, follow their convictions with actions…making it really hard for people like me to keep their distance. It was amazing. I almost started to like these church people‚Ä¶.
“Love was on the move. Mercy was on the move. God was on the move‚Ä¶ moving people of all kinds to work with others they had never met, never would have cared to meet…conservative church groups hanging out with spokesmen for the gay community, all singing off the same hymn sheet on AIDS…soccer moms and quarterbacks…hip-hop stars and country stars. This is what happens when God gets on the move: crazy stuff happens! Popes were seen wearing sunglasses! Jesse Helms was seen with a ghetto blaster! Crazy stuff. Evidence of the Spirit. It was breathtaking. Literally. It stopped the world in its tracks‚Ä¶.
“Look, whatever thoughts you have about God, who He is or if He exists, most will agree that if there is a God, He has a special place for the poor. In fact, the poor are where God lives. God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them‚Ä¶.
“It’s not a coincidence that in the scriptures, poverty is mentioned more than 2,100 times. It’s not an accident. That’s a lot of air time, 2,100 mentions. (You know, the only time Christ is judgmental is on the subject of the poor.) ‘As you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me’ (Matthew 25:40). As I say, good news to the poor.” (Hear and see the whole address on: www.bread.org/get-involved/one-campaign)
Till next week,
Till next week,