Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 11, 1999
Stop the rush, says Collins
Just society based on being present to one another, he tells justice advocates
By LELLA BLUMER
Special to the WCR
We are meant to be analog people, not digital people, Archbishop Thomas Collins told a group of 150 at a Social Justice Commission luncheon Oct. 3.
"An analog watch tells you where you are by telling you where you've been and where you're going. It's a very human way of doing things, of living in relationships, past, present and future."
Digital watches flash moment by moment in a "headlong rush to nowhere in particular," he said.
"We are meant to be analog people, living by analogy . . . and our society is meant to be such - a place of human scale, of human relationships.
"To the extent that our communities are broken, 'dis-integrated', simply a rush of individual experiences . . . to that extent we are impoverished in a most profound way."
The Great Jubilee, like the Sabbath, is a "marker event," Collins said, which forces us to reflect on the basic questions of who we are, where we come from and where we are going.
"For six days we rush along in our digital way, our little digital selves, chasing after the various things that we seek. On the seventh day, the Sabbath, we stop and reflect on our relationship with God, our relationship with one another - we stop to see the meaning behind the mad rush."
In that way, Collins added, the jubilee is a source of social justice. Just as the people in the parable of the Good Samaritan were too busy to look to the side of the road, we need to stop the rush of our daily lives so that we don't miss the people we are rushing by.
"A world without Sabbath, without the opportunity for Sabbath, is profoundly dangerous.
"If there are people in our midst who are so pressed by their economic situation that they are cogs in a machine instead of Sabbath children of God, then there is something radically out of whack with the way we're doing things.
"If in our world there are people who are so forced to 'do' that they cannot be given the time to 'be', then there is something radically wrong. And if in our world we are people who are so busy 'doing' that we cannot 'be,' . . . be present to one another, be present to those in need and to the Lord, then there's something wrong in our lives."
The archbishop's message is one that touches everyone, no matter what their age, Zosha DiCastri said after the lunch. The Grade 10 student at Ecole Secondaire Ste. Marguerite d'Youville says it's a message she'd like her fellow students to hear.
"We're all facing the question of what's going to happen after high school, and we're asking those same questions of who am I, where am I going.
"That idea of looking to the past, the present and the future reaches all age groups."
Rather than setting out a list of responsibilities, Collins presented social justice as "a natural way to live," says Lisa Lecky, co-chair of the Social Justice Commission. "It was an excellent reminder of what's important in life."
At the heart of the social teachings of the Church, Collins said, is the recognition of each person as a child of God, to be treated with respect.
"On the day of Sabbath or jubilee we recognize that we are not who we are because of what we do, or what we produce, but because we are children of God."
The concept of jubilee, he said, dates back to the Old Testament, and originates in a question of justice and freedom.
"It is meant especially for those who are in the greatest need, who are most likely to be used in the social fabric of the day, and of course in our day that is even more intensely true."
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we need to keep in mind his "inaugural address," Collins said, in which he talked about being sent to preach good news to the poor, liberty to the oppressed and "to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."
"That's the message of jubilee - we have to be people who . . . in our daily life, in the way we live with one another and the way we relate to various events in our society, seek to be people who bring that forward, who aren't caught up in a digital wash of events and experiences, but (who) stop to see the things that matter.
"We have to watch in our lives as Christians not to drain our lives of that which gives perspective, because ultimately what is involved in jubilee is to see perspective, to see things in relationship to God, to one another, to who we are, to where we've been, and to where we're going.
"And in order to get perspective we need to slow down, have Sabbath time, and celebrate. Because if I think I've got the whole world on my shoulders, I'm out of touch with reality and I certainly will never be able to celebrate.
"But if we see our work and our life from the perspective of God's grace, then we will celebrate, and regenerate and re-energize, to go out and be what we're meant to be."