Does Jesus Want Us to Build Back Better?

by | Dec 15, 2021 | Formation, Reflections, Systemic change

We hear a lot about “Build Back Better.” Most often it triggers partisan reaction depending upon whether your favorite color is red or blue.

Here, however, I am talking about God’s plan to build back better as demonstrated by Jesus!

But first, let’s talk for a moment about earlier plans to build back better.

At the opening speech of the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, stated:

“The word of “Build Back Better” sounds like a new concept, but this is common sense to the Japanese people, coming from our historical experiences in recovering from disaster and preparing for the future, and it has become an important part of the culture of Japan.”

The underlying concept over some 75 years is about recovering from disaster whether man-made or natural.

God’s Plan to “Build Back Better” has a very long history.

God’s plan, “Salvation History” has its own history – a long journey.

First, there was our original goodness (“God saw that it was good”.) Quickly we experienced the destruction and devastation of our original sin of self-centeredness. Generation after generation continued to be blinded by the self-centeredness of “me first”.

“In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets.

Biblical history traces God’s plan through the pages of the Old Testament and our various leaders and prophets.

The 10 commandments were to help us to recognize and overcome our self-centeredness and blindness to wake up to the fact that we are one with God  (“I pray that all may be one). But with human wisdom, these ten commandments given to us as guidance became 612 laws and a complicated set of dietary laws.

“in these last days, God spoke to us through a son”

Jesus spoke of just two commandments – love your God and your neighbor as yourself. He unpacked these in the stories he told and the homilies he preached in the sermon on the mount, the beatitudes. In the spirit of “be-attitudes” he walked the talk in doing the unthinkable – praying for his enemies as he hung dying.

Modern day prophets

In our own day, I believe we have prophets. One was St. John XXIII.  Convening the Second Vatican Council he called us to “read the signs of the times” and :scrape the barnacles off the bark of Peter”. St. Paul VI and St. John Paul II along with Benedict XVI all insisted, albeit with varying emphases, on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council as the path to wake up to our common humanity in Christ.

Today we have a Pope named Francis. He picks up all their threads. In direct language, he invites us to

  • rejoice in the joy of the gospel and spread the Good News (Evangelii Gaudium),
  • cherish the gift of our common home (Laudato si) and
  • build up the structures that foster living our original goodness as brothers and sisters of our common God (Fratelli Tutti)

He also has a gift of using metaphors all can relate to and of demonstrating God’s love in his actions especially toward those the rest of us tend not to see.

Each of these prophets has often been treated as shabbily as the prophets of old ….depending on which side of the aisle one sits in … or outside… the Church. But their common message is the same as Jesus. Repent (change your way of thinking)!  Wake up! Become what you receive in Eucharist.

Will we

  • buy into God’s plan to build back better?
  • work to build this kingdom of God?

Originally posted on Vincentian Mindwalk