Mission challenges us to systemic change
Systemic Change is something radical. It does what it says:
The prophet Jeremiah: “This day I set you over nations and over kingdoms, to root up and to tear down, to destroy and to demolish, to build and to plant” (Jr 1: 10).
Saint Paul in the letter to the Romans: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Rm 12:2).
Saint Paul in the letter to the Ephesians: “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens” (Ep 6:12).
Systemic Change is something radical. It is what it says:
Saint Vincent de Paul: “If there are any among us who think they are in the Mission to evangelize poor people but not to alleviate their sufferings, to take care of their spiritual needs but not their temporal ones, I reply that we have to help them and have them assisted in every way, by us and by others” [SV CCD XII, 77-78].
Frederic Ozanam: “The problem which divides people today is not a political problem; it is a social one. It is a matter of knowing which will get the upper hand, the spirit of selfishness or the spirit of sacrifice; whether society will go for ever-increasing enjoyment and profit, or for everyone devoting themselves to the common good … Many people have too much and still want more. Others do not have enough, or do not have anything at all, and they want to take by force what is not being given to them. A war is threatening between these two groups. On one side, the power of wealth, on the other the force of desperation. We must get in between these two groups, at least to reduce the impact if we cannot stop it.” [Letter to Louis Janmot, November 13, 1836]
III. Sending on mission
The work developed by followers of Jesus Christ, in the footsteps of Saint Vincent de Paul, cannot be just a practice, but it has to be praxis. What does this mean? It means that our action is a fruit of our faith; the fruit of our meeting with Jesus Christ Liberator and with the poor that are social subjects. Our practice is a result of a reflection about the poverty causes that destroy the human dignity and the searching of consistent structures able to support new relationships between people which are grounded in love, justice, equality and fraternity.
- How often do we use expressions that reinforce the structures that we wish to destroy and don’t help to build the new man, the new woman and the new society we desire so much?
- What personal and/or common praxis can we take to strengthen the Systemic Change that the Vincentian Family has proposed since 2007?
- Do you and your group know any of the Vincentian Family Projects which have promoted Systemic Change? What can you and your group do to strengthen and expand this project?
IV. Celebrate: Prayer for Discernment
Lord, I kneel not only on the Bible.
I bow to the daily newspaper
to be sure to look at what we have done
with your world, to your Church.
Confused in the face of such possibilities,
all looking good, pleasing and perfect,
I want to be guided only by your will, but how?
Help me to remain attentive.
Help me to always contemplate you
while I go into the field of action.
Help me to expose the error, especially that I might shelter.
Help me to realize the manipulation
especially of those who control the powers.
Understanding the world is too difficult for me,
but I have already chosen to stay away from the circle of resignation.
So that Your Holy Spirit enlighten me
so I can see what you want,
judge how you teach and act as you need.
Original text in Portuguese by Israel Belo de Azabedo: http://www.prazerdapalavra.com.br/component/content/article/1344/1853-oracao-por-discernimento.html.
Visit famvin’s systemic change formation section and Vinformation for more resources on Systemic Change.