March 31. Human Rights and a Throw-away World.   Zodwa and Peter were veterans of the SA liberation struggle and at this time of the year often spoken of those days.  “It is interesting to see how the scripture readings as we approach Holy Week describe violent protests that are building up. The prophet Jeremiah experienced it too, even earlier and he warned the leaders against their wicked ways.  Jesus did too. Jeremiah’s approach, however, was calling on God for vengeance.   Jesus spoke of justice and of God’s mercy.

Fratelli Tutti addresses a similar situation as the Old Testament prophets faced and it seems that nothing has changed. We go through cycles of growth and regression, although psychologically and sociologically surely we have advanced vastly, along with technological advancements.”

Scripture. “The Lord is with me as a dread warrior, therefore my persecutors will stumble, they will not overcome me.  They will be greatly shamed. Jer 20:10-13.  Jesus did not seek physical confrontation but he cleverly debated with the Jews and defended himself.  Scripture: At that time the Jews took up stones to stone Jesus.  Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father, for which of these do you stone me?” Again they tried to arrest him but he escaped from their hands. John 10:31-42

Pope Francis: Justice and mercy are not two contradictory realities but two dimensions of a single reality that unfolds progressively until it culminates in the fullness of love. Jesus goes beyond the law and affirms that the rule for life must place mercy at the centre. FM 20.  We see protests including pro-democracy protests all over the world.  Some economic rules have proved effective for growth but not for integral human development, in practice human rights are not equal for all. What does this tell us about the equality of rights grounded in innate human dignity?   (FT 21-22)   “War, terrorist attacks, racial or religious persecution and many other affronts to human dignity are judged differently depending on how convenient it proves for certain, primarily economic interests.   What is true as long as it is convenient for someone in power stops being true once it becomes inconvenient. These situations of violence, sad to say, have become so common as to constitute a real “third world war” fought piececemeal. FT25.  When the dignity of the human person is respected and his or her rights recognized and guaranteed, creativity and interdependence thrive and the creativity of the human personality is released through actions that further the common good.  FT22.

The harmony which St Francis experiences with all creatures was seen as a healing of that rupture caused by sin. St Bonaventure held that through universal reconciliation with every creature, St Francis in some way returned to the state of original innocence.  This is a far cry from our situation today where sin is manifest in all its destructive power in wars, the various forms of violence and abuse, the abandonment of the most vulnerable and attacks on nature.   LS 66.

Reflect, share, act, pray.   Discuss and share on the topic “Human rights are family rights.” How can we promote this aspect of rights as a neglected area in our own environment and the wider community?  It can apply to nature too as a community or family, rather than an individual right. 

CONCLUDING QUESTION. Have we adopted the Reuse, Reduce, Recycle approach to combat the throw-away culture of today’s world?