Last Sunday Pope Francis issued a new encyclical letter. It’s a rather long document which calls for a new way of thinking and acting as we approach the task of building a post-COVID world. The document is based on the idea of fraternity.
Fraternity is also a common theme in Carmelite spirituality. It isn’t just about the idea of recognising that others are our brothers and sisters. It’s also about actually thinking and acting like a brother or sister to others – to treat them with care and great respect, as though they were equal members of our family.
That is the sense which runs through Francis’ letter. This abiding care and deep respect should lead us in rebuilding human society in a post-COVID world. It is time, Francis says, to let go of old models of economic and social life and political leadership which dehumanise so many people around the world. It’s time to stop poisoning our social and political communication with vitriolic and cruel language. It’s time to recover our sense of the common good over narrow, self-interest.
We need to rebuild the world, not at the expense of others (especially the poor), but in fraternal dialogue and work, giving each person the dignity and respect with is their right. This needs to happen not just in our personal relationships but also in institutional, economic and social relationships.
Francis is talking about the kind of love that looks to the good of the other. Whether we succeed in building the post-COVID world that echoes the mind and heart of God will depend entirely on how we respond to God’s invitation to us in this moment of history.
In today’s Gospel, a king invites people to the wedding of his son, but those he invites are not interested. The king pleads with them a second time but they go off, instead, to their farms and businesses or set about abusing and killing the King’s servants. Since everything is ready for the wedding feast the king decides to invite everyone. A great crowd of people respond and come to the feast.
But, as the final part of the Gospel today shows, our response needs to be given whole-heartedly. This is not the time for lip-service, but for a radical rethink about human life, about what is truly important to us and our sisters and brothers, about what kind of world we want for our children and ourselves, and what part we will play in making it a reality.
Join us in celebrating at home this Sunday using the links below.