Reflection for the
Tuesday, 29th October 2019
Fr. Vincent Lockhart
Presiding Officer and honourable members of the Scottish Parliament, good afternoon.
For many years I lived in a remote village in the rainforest in Cameroon, West Africa.
There was no electricity or running water. We were a close community which lived a simple life and most people were content.
However, an enterprising bar owner in the village travelled to Nigeria and bought a small electric generator, a TV and a DVD player. These he smuggled back across the border along with a box set of DVDs of the American TV series, Dynasty. For those of you too young to remember, Dynasty was a glitzy saga about very rich people living in Denver, Colorado. The bar owner announced that he would have a showing of Dynasty on the forthcoming Saturday night. The entire village turned up. It was the social event of the year.
The next day I asked a young man, Julius Agendia, what he had learned from watching the TV. He paused and said: "I learned that I am poor and that where I live is very small and backward."
In the blink of an eye, his world had become smaller. All the important things which enriched his life and held everything together had lost their once powerful significance; what had satisfied him before was now replaced with hunger and longing.
There are two fundamental questions which every human being has to face in life. The first is: What does it mean to be human? And the second is: What is reality?
How we perceive others and the image we present of them and their lives can have a profound impact upon how they view reality. We have to be careful about the nature of our concern.
The organisation I represent, Missio Scotland, is the Pope’s official charity and aims to create solidarity among Catholic communities throughout the world. What counts is recognising we are dependent upon one another at many levels, not simply in financial terms. Material wealth does not make us superior as human beings. For Pope Francis there is not a “rich” Church and a “poor” Church. There is only one Church.
In our dealings with those we designate as poor, our financial generosity must be matched by an actual acceptance of what they can teach and share with us, otherwise our generosity can create a deeper poverty in both them and in us.
The reality is that we are equal. That must be true for the Church and for humanity.