As countless fellow human beings suffer terribly in a myriad of ways, and much of our planet groans from gaping human-induced wounds, our government, other governments, and many welloff people, seem to hardly care. It is what Pope Francis calls a “globalization of indifference.” Urgently needed is a creative new paradigm — a fresh life-giving, life-protecting, life-enhancing model to guide us out of the selfish, violent, sinful darkness of religious intolerance, nationalism, isolationism, materialism, consumerism, racism, secularism and militarism.
But we don’t need to keep stumbling around in the darkness trying to find our way out of all this muck. Instead, the new paradigm we desperately need to fully embrace is the ever-fresh ancient Gospel of Jesus. For in the Gospel we encounter the living Christ and his ever-relevant teachings of compassionate, just, peaceful, nonviolent, merciful, unconditional love for all.
An honest, open-hearted, open-minded prayerful reflection on Jesus’ words and actions will give us sure guidance on how to morally respond to the life and death issues facing our nation and world. And as we do this, we should ask ourselves WWJD, that is, “What would Jesus do? While some will surely say this is overly simplistic; I beg to differ. And so does the Pontifical Biblical Commission.
In their book, “The Bible and Morality” they state that in judging the Christian morality of an action, the fundamental question is: To what extent is this action “inspired by the example of Jesus?” What would Jesus — through whom all things were made, and who was so at one with the natural world — do regarding our poisoning of the air, water and land with toxic waste, and the profit-driven burning of oil, coal and gas that is causing global warming?
Surely he would speak out against it. And surely he is telling us to stop polluting and dangerously warming the
earth, to clean it up, and be good stewards of his creation. What would Jesus — who was an unborn baby — do regarding the annual 900,000- plus babies brutally aborted in the U.S., and the more than 55 million-plus abortions worldwide?
Surely he would condemn it. And surely he is commanding us to end it. What would Jesus — who said, “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” — do regarding our fascination for making, possessing, buying, selling, and using high-tech swords? He would surely tell us to stop warring and preparing for war. And would add, “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
What would Jesus — who said, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me” — do regarding the suffering of poor, hungry, thirsty and migrant persons? He would condemn the tremendous inequality between the haves and have-nots. He would insist upon the establishment of fair and just corporate policies, laws, and budgets to ensure that the basic needs of all human beings are met. He would tell us to build bridges of welcome, not walls of exclusion. And he would ask of us to faithfully put into action the words enshrined on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
That’s what Jesus would do!
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings about Catholic social teaching. His keynote address, “Advancing the Kingdom of God in the 21st Century,” has been well received by diocesan and parish gatherings from Santa Clara, Calif. to Baltimore, Md. Tony can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.