sexta-feira, 11 de março de 2016


If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
Isaiah 58:9b-10 (read 58:6-11) – NIV

One of the great sins of Christianity is its concern with religion. This concern leads to church quarrels, divisions and disunity. Christianity is divided into factions that generate distrust, competition and even armed struggle! Churches expend energy in proselytizing and indoctrination, and give more importance to religious beliefs and "correct religious practices” of the faithful than to efforts on behalf of the welfare of the people in general. They are more concerned on how people relate to each other in the bedroom than how their members show compassion in the streets. Churches tend to put themselves as the center of the life of their members, but ironically if church structures would suddenly disappear from the landscape few people would miss them, because many churches contribute very little to the general welfare of the communities where they are located.

In contrast, Biblical and prophetic religion is secular. Justice and compassion are its goals. The prophets and the gospels proclaim these priorities clearly. The true sign of the Spirit is engagement against oppression on all levels: social, economic and political, both collectively and individually. Jesus put the welfare of the people above religious rules and beliefs.

Our blessedness (salvation) is connected to the welfare of others. Ironically the word “welfare” has been politicized and turned into a negative word for many, but the biblical fact is that we cannot be saved without doing everything possible for the welfare of others! This is the main focus of biblical prophecy. "Populist studies of prophecies" are based on speculation about the signs of the end of time, of who is the beast of apocalypse, with the coming battle of Armageddon, etc. They do violence to the Bible, twisting it and manipulating it, never reaching the central message of the Bible about being compassionate and loving! They are biased and reach people who are ignorant, easily suggestible and without firm convictions. They promote sensationalism and fear while feeding prejudices. They transform compassion into selfish “me firstness”.

This passage from Isaiah clearly tells us what God expects of us. It recounts the consequences of those who do His will, describing also the results of the option of those who follow paths that are contrary to His will. The will of God is always linked to our relationship to fellow human beings and not linked to religious practices.

The prophetic message reaches both the root of our being and our social practice at the same time. The true prophet cries out against the inconsistency of the practice of worship with our practical daily life. It is useless to be one way at the time of worship and the other way when dealing with others. It is inconsistent to sing praises to God and then be insensitive to the needs of those around us. Humankind around the world is suffering and we cannot afford to ignore it.

We should not only be lights in the temple, but much more so in the public squares. Our light should shine brightest in the street where most of humanity suffers and transits. The closed doors of our temples, which stand empty except for a few hours a week, are symptomatic of our lack of identification with the people and their aspirations. Our faith should not be limited to personal piety in the worship hour, but should give constant expression to our participation in the movements against the forces that oppress the masses. Jesus showed us how to be "equal to the noonday sun."
You are the light of the world.
A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp
and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand,
and it gives light
to everyone in the house.
In the same way,
let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:14-16


“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.

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