Top 10 Things To Learn From Pope Francis’ Fratelli Tutti


29th Sunday In Ordinary Time

Deacon Tom Vert

Preached: October 18, 2020

We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers,
unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love
and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ,

This line is from the 2nd reading we heard today, and St. Paul is praising the Christians at the time for their strength of faith in times of persecution.

Now in 2020, something similar has happened, Pope Francis has written a letter called “Fratelli Tutti”, which means “all brothers and sisters” and is a letter of how we are to live as Christians in this modern world of ours with all its craziness and challenges like wars, viruses, stresses, etc.

The letter is 75 pages long and is a fairly easy read, but as a help I have summarized it today into what I believe is the top ten key points for us to learn:

#10:  Following the title, we are told “God has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and has called us to live together as brothers and sisters”.

This means we are to live in a spirit of openness that allows us to acknowledge, appreciate and love each person, regardless of where he or she was born or lives.

We are to act as fellow travelers, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all.

We know this is true as this worldwide tragedy of the Covid-19 pandemic shows us that we are a global community, all in the same boat, where one person’s problems are the problems of all.

God willing, after all this, we will think no longer in terms of “them” and “those”, but only “us”.

#9: Knowing that we are all “brothers and sisters” then our social and political systems are to be built “for the common good”.

Pope Francis tells us that in difficult times, we are to uphold high principles and think of the longterm common good.  ‘We are to seek the good of all people and use love to help solve today’s worldly problems.

A good example is one person can help another by providing something to eat; but as a society we are to encourage more education and the creation of a job for that other person to give them true dignity and to nurture the seeds that God has planted in each of us.

#8: We have to have the shared passion to create a true community and abandon the focus on a consumerist lifestyle.

Saint John Chrysostom summarizes it in this way: “Not to share our wealth with the poor is to rob them and take away their livelihood. The riches we possess are not our own, but theirs as well”.  As Father Mark said in his homily two weeks ago – we don’t own anything, it is God’s and we are to use it as such.

God gave the earth to the whole human race for the sustenance of all its members, without excluding or favouring anyone.   No one, then, can remain excluded because of his or her place of birth, much less because of privileges enjoyed by others who were born in lands of greater opportunity.

Therefore, we are to live focused on what we need, and not what we want, and be generous to others who need a “hand up”.

#7:  Immigrants, if they are helped to integrate, are a blessing, a source of enrichment and new gift that encourages a society to grow.

No one will ever openly deny that they are human beings, yet in practice, by our decisions and the way we treat them, we can show that we consider them less worthy, less important, less human.

For Christians, this way of thinking and acting is unacceptable, since it does not show the deep convictions of our faith: the inalienable dignity of each human person regardless of origin, race or religion, and the supreme law of fraternal love.

Personally, I love this as my father was a refugee from Austria as a 5-year-old child he crossed the mountains at night to escape the dangerous region he lived in.  He was able to come to Canada and build a better life, just as so many of us I am sure can tell the same stories.

#6: The process of building community, can only be undertaken if we are free and open to authentic encounters with true dialogue.

That is why “we need to communicate with each other, to discover the gifts of each person, to promote that which unites us, and to regard our differences as an opportunity to grow in mutual respect.

Approaching, speaking, listening, looking at, coming to know and understand one another, and to find common ground: all these things are summed up in the one word “dialogue”.

Each of us can learn something from others. No one is useless and no one is expendable.

We, as a people, should be passionate about meeting others, seeking points of contact, building bridges, planning a project that includes everyone. This becomes an aspiration and a style of life.  Let us aim to encounter people in our daily life, in our neighbourhood, our workplace or just out and about.

#5: We need an acknowledgement of the worth of every human person, always and everywhere.

The world exists for everyone, because all of us were born with the same dignity. Differences of colour, religion, talent, place of birth or residence, and so many others, cannot be used to justify the privileges of some over the rights of all.

Let us admit that, for all the progress we have made, we are still “illiterate” when it comes to accompanying, caring for and supporting the most frail and vulnerable members of our developed societies, and we need to do better!  If the pandemic has shown us anything, it is we can do better for the elderly in our society.

#4: Each day we have to decide whether to be Good Samaritans or indifferent bystanders.

Pope Francis spends almost 20% of this letter using the parable of the Good Samaritan to guide us. He reminds us that all of us have in ourselves something of the wounded person, something of the robber, something of the passers-by, and something of the Good Samaritan.

The Pope challenges us to take an active part in renewing and supporting our troubled societies.

Like the chance traveller in the parable, we need only have a pure and simple desire to be a people, a community, constant and tireless in the effort to include, integrate and lift up the fallen.

“Go and do likewise” Jesus says at the end of the parable to the people and to us…in other words, he challenges us to put aside all differences and to draw near to others with no questions asked.

#3: We need to practice our faith that actively helps our brothers and sisters.

Francis says that a private belief in God and worship of God are not enough to ensure that we are actually living in a way pleasing to God.

A believer may be untrue to everything that his faith demands of him, and yet think he is close to God and better than others.   As St. James says, “I will show you my faith by my actions”.

We are to have an attitude that “wills the good” of others; it bespeaks a yearning for goodness, an inclination towards all that is fine and excellent, a desire to fill the lives of others with what is beautiful, inspiring and enlightening.

#2: Goodness, together with love, justice and unity, are not achieved once and for all; they have to be realized each day.

It is not possible to settle for what was achieved in the past and complacently enjoy it, for each day offers us a new opportunity, and a new possibility.

#1: We are to follow the path of St. Francis of Assisi who did not wage a war of words, but he simply spread the love of God.

Let us show a love capable of welcoming differences, and the priority of the dignity of every human being.

We should remember that, “appearances notwithstanding, every person is immensely holy and deserves our love. Consequently, if I can help at least one person to have a better life, that already justifies the offering of my life.

We can do this by being willing to set everything else in order to show interest, to give the gift of a smile, to speak a word of encouragement, to listen and if we make a daily effort to do exactly this, we can create a healthy society.

These top ten things are ones that I think all of us do at times, and of course we always have room for improvement, but on behalf of Father Mark, Father Paul, Deacon Robin and myself, I would like to say:

We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers,
unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love
and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ,

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