Fratelli Tutti (52)
Pope Francis recognizes how dissonant his exhortation to change the world sounds to our ears, so accustomed to the normalized noise of individualism and insatiable consumerism. Nevertheless, he grounds his argument in current brutal reality and persistently offers hope.
Through turning our own lives around—away from the shallowness of self-indulgent digital networks—towards authentic encounter, shared wisdom with others, we can indeed stop the destruction of the planet and humanity itself. Francis discusses many “paths of hope” that when taken by each of us, ultimately will save the world. “Hope is bold; it can look beyond personal convenience, the petty securities and compensations which limit our horizon, and it can open us up to grand ideals that make life more beautiful and worthwhile”. Francis’s insistence on reawakening our awareness of human interconnection echoes much current knowledge in science, medicine, and social sciences. But the pope demonstrates that living responsibly is described by Christ and is already outlined in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament).
The command to “love your neighbour as yourself” (Lev 19:18) is repeated in many parts of the OT: “In the first century before Christ, Rabbi Hillel stated: ‘This is the entire Torah. Everything else is commentary’”. With Christ, the imperative to love stipulates love for otherness, beyond one’s own community: “Saint Paul, recognizing the temptation of the earliest Christian communities to form closed and isolated groups, urged his disciples to abound in love ‘for one another and for all’ (1 Thess 3:12)”.
Thus, the parable of the Good Samaritan is central to Christian life: “The parable clearly does not indulge in abstract moralizing, nor is its message merely social and ethical. It speaks to us of an essential and often forgotten aspect of our common humanity: we were created for a fulfilment that can only be found in love. We cannot be indifferent to suffering; we cannot allow anyone to go through life as an outcast. Instead, we should feel indignant, challenged to emerge from our comfortable isolation and to be changed by our contact with human suffering. That is the meaning of dignity.”