We All Want to Live

by Fr. Shay Cullen

What do we recall these holy days but the life-giving love and compassion of one person who changed the world by teaching mankind that justice is more powerful than revenge, that compassion is greater than condemnation, that believing in goodness and truth to overcome evil is a power that can change the world? That person is Jesus of Nazareth, truly a revolutionary who worked to convert the nation and corrupt leaders by calling for justice, loving the poor, respecting their dignity and rights. He stood with the downtrodden and for him, the children were the most important of all and women had equal rights. He was rejected by the leaders, despised, falsely accused, charged as a rebel and given the death penalty.

Yet those values he introduced are alive today but are rejected by corrupt leadership. Jesus of Nazareth had a deep conviction in the power of goodness and truth. He taught that people who had conviction and was one in goodness would live a fuller life of happiness and this would change the world. Everybody wants to live, be secure, healthy and happy and avoid death. These dreams and desires are supposed to be made a reality by a just government of integrity.

The tragedy of the human species is that so many of the leaders succeed by nefarious ways to get and remain in positions of political and economic power. The bad ones are people of low moral values, devoid of principles and integrity. They despise the weak, exploit them and steal from the public purse to enrich themselves. They silence the speakers of truth; they kill the doers of good. These world leaders are the greatest threat to the well-being of the people and the planet. They lack commitment and concern for climate change. They are devoid of wise and learned action for the common good and bring the people and planet closer to the brink of disaster. So it was in the time of Jesus who called for change before it was too late.

This disastrous failure of leadership today has allowed the latest catastrophic spread of the Coronavirus to every nation, community, and parish. It was foreseen, predicted, and a stupefied immoral leadership failed to act. Some leaders and their rich cronies and supporters, in order to preserve their economic wealth and prevent the stock market from crashing, resisted a lock-down. It was a policy of fatalism. “There is nothing we can do,” they said. Let the weak die and create “herd immunity” for the strong. Fatalism is a form of spiritual and mental paralysis, it denies the truth, undervalues people’s lives and freezes decision-making that would have saved many. As a result, death is all around us. Friends, relatives, parents are dying because of the failure of leaders to act in time against the deadly pandemic Coronavirus.

I saw shocking video clips from Indonesia of people in public places convulsing and choking to death with COVID-19 and no one would dare to help them. One brave woman rushed to help a dying woman. She acted on an impulse of compassion and empathy to try and help the stranger. She risked her own life. Who or what motivated her and others to act in a self-sacrificial manner? Patients have willingly given up their life-saving ventilators to others younger and choose to die so that others could live. What motivates health workers to report for work where they could be fatally infected themselves and die?

It is the power that comes from the unshakeable conviction, the belief that goodness and truth will overcome evil. It is called faith. That kind of faith is a true and good conviction that every person is of value, has dignity and right to life. Such faith and belief motivates and empowers people. They are the few who leave their comfort zone and choose to help others. They help others out of kindness, integrity, and goodness. They love the poor and work for justice. People stuck in fatalism and despair cannot act in this way.

Their conviction that goodness and truth will triumph over evil is an inner experience that flows out into action for justice for the poor. It is the unseen immeasurable power of a spiritual experience. It is akin to hope, for hope too is a conviction that goodness will triumph over evil. The world urgently needs such conviction to challenge with courage the despots and tyrants, the money moguls and corrupt captains of industry that oppress and exploit the downtrodden making them refugees, homeless and hungry. The leaders that Jesus wanted were to be believers in goodness and truth that protect, serve and help the poor, the oppressed, the deprived, the abused children.

The world community is facing a catastrophic situation right now like no other in history. Not only is the Coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world but even more damaging is the deadly effects of climate change. The indifference and apathy of many world leaders and their business partners accelerate deadly climate change that is threatening the human race and bringing the natural world close to collapse. To return to doing the good and taking the right action based on faith in the goodness and dignity of every human with the right to a sustainable life is what the world needs. This will bring justice and peace to all. Without such values, evil will triumph and we will face the consequence of a faithless society, devoid of spiritual values, one that is based on selfishness, greed, exploitation, and power.

Yet if enough people unite believing in the force of goodness, the power of loving each other, respecting the rights of all and making it a movement, there will be change. There will be a halt to the pandemic, to climate change, to the global collapse of the world economy. We can change the world for the better. We need to believe that we can and that our faith will save us. That is the powerful reason Jesus gave to those who were healed. No one did it. They healed themselves. “Your faith has made you whole,” he said. For doing good and wanting a just and equal society, they killed him, nailed on a cross, a cruel death for an innocent man. He left a meal of friendship. Do this in memory of me, he said, and we remember his powerful message on how to change the world. Many good innocent people are killed today for doing justice and believing in goodness.

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