Twenty-SixthSunday in Ordinary Time
Europe first, now Asia, later Africa
Woe to the complacent in Zion, to the overconfident on the mount of Samaria, Lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches, They eat lambs taken from the flock, and calves from the stall! Improvising to the music of the harp, like David, they devise their own accompaniment. They drink wine from bowls and anoint themselves with the best oils; yet they are not made ill by the collapse of Joseph! Therefore, now they shall be the first to go into exile, and their wanton revelry shall be done away with. Am 6,1a.4-7
We open the newspaper and read about corrupted politician living happily and loosely, without paying the least interest in the people who have elected them. Young people find difficulties in finding a job, old people get older in the only company of nurses they do not know, instead of being surrounded by their dearest ones’ love, and couples split to find new relationship without caring about their children, forced to live together with stepparents. Politician answer this situations – to which society has sadly got acquainted – raising their wages, but they “are not made ill by the collapse of Joseph!” (that is, the ruin of their Country). It is the same disgrace that the prophet Amos denounces in today’s reading, looking at the contemporary kingdom of Judah, towards the end of the VIII century BC: “lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches, they eat lambs taken from the flock, and calves from the stall! Improvising to the music of the harp, like David, they devise their own accompaniment. They drink wine from bowls and anoint themselves with the best oils”. “Therefore – Amos prophesises – now they shall be the first to go into exile”. And this is what will happen to the important people in Israel two centuries later: they will be deported to Babylon. Despite we can find the same situation in different countries nowadays, no responsible will be deported, but many people are forced to emigrate, and we are fated to live as exiled in our land even in our own country, because the events in history punish moral looseness. We are “invaded”, even if peacefully, by people coming from Africa, Asia and Latin America. Walking through the street of Milan, we may have the impression of being in Tunis, Tripoli or Shanghai; the city smells are even different. It is an unstoppable historical process, against which we Europeans can do nothing, because our society has become so weak and corrupted that we can oppose no resistance, even when there are episodes of abuse and disdain for our religious traditions. It has happened to all decadent civilisations, from the Roman Empire to the Soviet Union more recently and now it is happening to Europe. You do not need to be a historian or to have a prophetic spirit to realise that the past belonged to Europe, the present belongs to Asia and the future will belong to Africa. As for the Church, if it rediscover its original missionary spirit it does not need to go anywhere to preach the Gospel in the world: it only needs to wait, welcoming the ones coming from abroad and announcing them the Gospel. However, will the Church find back the missionary spirit which we discover in the Act of the Apostles and St Paul’s letters? We are confident, since we confide in the Holy Spirit.