Prayer, peace and poverty

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By Arnold Van Vugt

The Living Spirit

Sunday, July 13, 2014


POPE Francis proposes the three Ps-formula for changing the world, the formula: prayer, peace and poverty.

These are the three important elements we have to consider if we want to change the world. What is wrong with the world? What do we have to change in the world? The world is divided. We must erase that division.

I remember, when I came to the Philippines 50 years ago the Philippines was considered to be a Third World country. The Philippines belonged to the so-called underdeveloped world, like most countries in Asia and in South America.

In contrast to this world there was the so-called developed world like the United States of America and some European countries called the First World. Somewhere in between these two worlds there were other countries, like Holland, the country where I came from. They didn’t call this the second world but these countries were not yet fully developed.

When we speak of a developed world and an underdeveloped world we must see this in economic terms. The world is made up also of many different cultures. Culture has nothing to do with development or underdevelopment. Culturally all peoples are one. Culture is innate to a nation. What we have to change in the world of today is the division between the rich and the poor, the gap that exists between the rich and the poor. The gap has to be narrowed down but always respecting the culture of people. This is a gap within a nation between the rich and the poor and a gap outside the nation between the rich and the poor countries.

It is here where the formula of Pope Francis comes in very handy, prayer, peace and poverty.

What do we mean by prayer? We must remember what Jesus of Nazareth said about prayer. When you pray, go inside your room and don’t use a torrent of words. Simply have a conversation with God, say the Our Father. Through the Our Father we recognize God as our Father, who has prepared his Kingdom for us. A Kingdom here on earth and a Kingdom in heaven. The Father’s will must be done in this world. The Father provides all we need. We have nothing to worry about. The Father is in control of everything, nothing happens by accident or co-incidence, all has a purpose or a reason. It is always for our own welfare, even disasters and accidents. The Father forgives our failures and mistakes as long as we forgive the failures and mistakes of others. If not, He lets evil takes its course and then disruption comes into the community and society.

So what then is peace? Peace is more than just an absence of war. Peace is always connected with justice. There must be a just state of affairs between all citizens, between the rich and the poor.

So what then is poverty? For many people poverty means: hunger, no clothing, no money to buy groceries, slavery, oppression and exploitation.

How do we bridge then that gap between the rich and the poor?

First, we must recognize and acknowledge that we are all equal, rich and poor. We are all made in the image of the Creator, we are all equal in dignity.

Second, we must adopt a simple and humble life style. Our wealth is nothing to brag about. The only thing we may brag about is our solidarity and compassion with the poor. Through sisterhood and brotherhood we must overcome the scandal of our time that is poverty. The Father owns everything. We can’t call anything our own. We owe everything to Him and to each other and must share it with each other. All of us must be poor in spirit.

That is how we can change the world of today, through prayer, peace and poverty.

***

[Email: nolvanvugt@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 14, 2014.

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