Monday, September 30, 2019

Mankind was my business! (Charles Dickens)

  Stave One of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol resounds with themes common to our readings this past weekend.  You may recall that Scrooge returns home one night to discover, first, his former partner Jacob Marley’s face staring at him from the door knocker, and then, to his surprise, Marley himself, come to pay a visit from the great beyond.

  What is most shocking to Scrooge is Marley’s appearance, particularly the chain… clasped about his middle, made of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel.  When Scrooge inquires, Marley responds, I wear the chain I forged in life.  I made it link by link, and yard by yard.  I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.  Its pattern is not strange to Scrooge, Marley’s miserly partner.

  Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed, Marley cries, not to know, that ages of incessant labour, by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed.  Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its moral life too short for its vast means of usefulness.  Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one’s life’s opportunities misused!  Yes such was I!  Oh!  such was I!

  Scrooge is baffled:  But you were always a good man of business, Jacob, he says.

  Business! replies Marley’s ghost, Mankind was my business.  The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business.  The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!

  Is there not an echo here of the story of the rich man of Luke's Gospel (often referred to as “Dives”) who failed to see poor Lazarus sitting at his gate, until the beggar was installed in the bosom of Abraham while the rich man suffered in the netherworld, filled with regret for all he failed to do during his life on earth?  Woe to the complacent in Zion, Amos warns...  Would that we all recognize in time, as Marley’s Ghost did too late, that Mankind is our business!  And the common welfare is our business, too.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

They have no need of our help (Brian Bilston)

They have no need of our help
So do not tell me
These haggard faces could belong to you or me
Should life have dealt a different hand
We need to see them for who they really are
Chancers and scroungers
Layabouts and loungers
With bombs up their sleeves
Cut-throats and thieves
They are not
Welcome here
We should make them
Go back to where they came from
They cannot
Share our food
Share our homes
Share our countries
Instead let us
Build a wall to keep them out
It is not okay to say
These are people just like us
A place should only belong to those who are born there
Do not be so stupid to think that
The world can be looked at another way


September 29, 2019 marks the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees.  We offer this poem, entitled Refugees by Brian Bilston, and this sculpture in Denmark as food for thought.  To access Pope Francis’ message on for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, click here.

Image source: Art dedicated to drowned refugees by an anonymous artist in Helsingør, Denmark,

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Stand with the disposable (Fr. Greg Boyle)

   We choose to stand with the disposable so that the day will come when we stop throwing people away.

--Fr. Greg Boyle, 
June 20, 2018