Merely producers and consumers

Pope Francis I is making some waves isn't he? Independent of some of the doctrines of the Catholic church that I have come to not embrace I am excited about the direction he is taking the papacy and the church as a whole. I think that he is both more conservative and more liberal than either side is making him out to be, but that may just be me.

I was listening to an NPR interview where the new head of American Catholic Bishops said something that gave me great pause. Here is a portion of the transcript:

[Linda] WERTHEIMER: Now, you recently released his message for the World Day of Peace and the economic part of that message has gotten quite a bit of attention. He attacked the wealth gap in some parts of the world. How do you see American Catholics responding to that?

KURTZ: Well, I think what our holy father is talking about, first of all, is we cannot look at people as consumers and as producers only (my emphasis). And that means that as individuals, as a church and as a society we need to address the inequalities that exist within our world that often, obviously, hold people back because of the great poverty in which they's very easy for economies to forget the person and to see only the economic process, and he's challenging us.

Wow. First of all I think I need to read the Pope's message for the World Day of Peace, but this call to look beyond the person as a producer or consumer is something that I need to do as well. Barring the economic and domestic/foreign policy implications of this, on a personal level I get too caught up in the "what can you do for me" or "what will you take from me" attitudes that have me treating people more like objects than, well, people. 

There is no doubt that I have expectations of people and they have expectations of me. There can be no doubt that those expectations are healthy. Even God Himself places demands on my life to free me to be who I have been created to be and I hope my expectations do that for others. But, when I take this to an extreme, when those expectations become the only filter that I see people in my life through I have stripped them of their humanity and view them as nothing more than a mop or the ignition on my car.

I want to love like God loves. We can offer Him nothing and even attempt to take from Him that which only He should possess. But He chose to set His love on us to save us and to allow us to participate in His divine nature. There is nothing that we can produce for Him save what He has given us. There is nothing we can take from Him for our actions cannot diminish Him in any way. But there is an unspeakable love relationship that He has formed with us that cannot be ignored.

I want to imitate Him in this way. I desperately need this because when I objectify people I, myself, am sub-human. When I strip others of their humanity I am stripped of mine. When I see others as God saw me I receive a foretaste of what I will become when I am with Him in heaven and I become a more complete image of Him this side of my death.


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