In yesterday’s sermon, our pastor lifted up an expression from Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel): Pope Francis’ First Apostolic Exhortation. Francis, said the preacher, is seeking “a church that is both poor and for the poor.”
Later in the day, Barbara and I, together with a number of friends, found ourselves enjoying a wonderful performance of Handel’s Messiah by the 18-voice Spiritus Ensemble, together with a small orchestra. In the moment, sitting in the third row in beautiful and acoustically excellent surroundings, it was hard to navigate the cognitive dissonance of a Christian preferential option for the poor.
My mind zigged and zagged, as it is wont to do.
It has been bothering me for some time that Jesus, like so many, cannot contemplate a future and a time when a preferential option might not be required. In Matthew’s Gospel —the Gospel being read ecumenically in Sunday worship over the coming months— Jesus offers the words “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.” You can read it for yourself in chapter 26. We’ll hear it in church soon enough. Is it a throw away expression? …words to make a point? …rhetorical? I wonder, did Jesus actually believe that the poor would always be with him/them/us?
Is there no hope that we might be someday rid of foodbanks and soup kitchens? I don’t mean optimism. I mean the sort of Christian hope that does not disappoint. I wonder.
Sometimes I find Jesus annoying.
André Lavergne — writing from a settler-descendant’s home on the traditional lands of the Neutral, Anishnaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples on the Haldimand Tract (1784).
The featured Wikipedia image is that of Pope Francis at Vargihna in 2013.