A reflection on Fratelli tutti
by James Hanvey, SJ
The parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37) frames Fratelli
tutti (Chpt. 2). It invites
us into the contemplative or reflective dimension of the letter.
This sort of prayerful contemplative approach is one
that is used by St Ignatius in the Exercises. It makes the gospel a
contemporary reality: the gospel re-reads and re-describes our experience and
our world for us. As Jesus used the parable in his own time, so now in ours the
Good Samaritan not only exposes the realities of our social wounds, it offers
us a way of healing them. We are all persons in the parable.
Yet, it is so characteristic of Jesus in these great
parables of redemption, he not only casts a light on the brokenness of our
situation, he always opens the door for us to change. Each parable shows us the
path to a better way of being and living: a new possibility, maybe one which we
had thought was impossible. Indeed, it is the very encounter with Jesus that
makes the new way possible; he breaks down all our determinisms, social as well
Life is full of journeys. There are journeys we make for
business, others for duty, some for love and others for adventure. Sometimes
the way is easy and filled with companionship; at others, it is difficult and
lonely. We do not know why the man was going on the long road from Jerusalem to
Jericho; we only meet him beaten, robbed and half-dead.
There appears to be an
implicit violence built into our relationships brought about by markets that
want us to compete against each other or consume products and the diminishing
natural resources that we all need to live. Not only does the media inform us,
it wants to control and manipulate us: we the consumers are ourselves consumed.
People themselves have become commodities to be trafficked. We are served by a
culture of individualism that constantly legitimates the priority of ‘me’ over