You can read and listen to optimistic news about the resolving of the crisis and the progressive recovery of the economy more frequently each day.
They tell us that we are now witnessing economic growth, but growth of what? Growth for whom? They are hardly informing us of the whole truth of what’s happening.
The economic recovery that’s taking place is consolidating and even perpetuating the so-called «two-level society». Each day a gulf is opening up wider among those who are going to be able to better their standard of living more and more and those who are going to stay cut off, without work or future in this vast economic system.
Indeed we see growing at the same time the flagrant and provocative consumerism of those who are more and more wealthy and the misery and insecurity of those who are poorer each day.
The parable of the rich man «who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day» and the poor man Lazarus who sought unsuccessfully to fill his stomach with what fell from the rich man’s table, is a crude reality in the two-level society.
In our midst exist those «economic, financial and social mechanisms» denounced by John Paul II «which, though managed by the will of people, function almost automatically, making more rigid the situations of wealth for some and of poverty for others».
Once more we are consolidating a society that is profoundly unequal and unjust. In that encyclical that’s so clear and evangelical Sollicitudo rei socialis and also so seldom listened to, even by those who applaud it constantly, John Paul II discovers in the root of this situation something that only has one name: sin.
We can offer all kinds of technical explanations, but when the final result is in, it’s the always greater enrichment of those who are already rich and the collapse of the poorest. We see easily why even today there are many who follow Nietzsche and think that Jesus’ attitude is the fruit of resentment and the powerlessness of those who can’t attain justice anymore and who seek God’s vengeance.
However Jesus’ message isn’t born out of the powerlessness of cast-aside and resentful people, but out of his intense vision of God’s justice that can’t allow the final triumph of injustice.
It’s been 20 centuries, but Jesus’ word keeps being decisive for the rich and for the poor. Word of denouncing for some and of promise for others, it’s alive and well and challenges us all.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf