No balconies or armchairs please, we are Catholics – Father Joe Borg


Pope Francis is considered by many to be a liberal, but when it comes to balconies and armchairs he is a top-notch prohibitionist. No ifs or buts, balconies and armchairs are prohibited for Catholics, especially during Advent and Christmas (apologies to Commissioner Helena Dalli).

Why, one wonders, this harsh attitude towards balconies and armchairs?

In October 2017, speaking to members of the Vincentian Family, Francis said that the person who loves does not just sit in an armchair watching and waiting for the world to improve but, on the contrary, she gets up and does it with enthusiasm.

In his Angelus address on the first Sunday of Advent of this year, Francis again said that he was sad to “see Christians in the armchair,” paralyzed by the mediocrities of life and sleepy by the evangelical message.

François used the balcony metaphor on several occasions. One of the most powerful was when in 2015 he addressed the members of the community of Christian life in Italy.

“Am I watching as a Catholic from my balcony?” He replied categorically, “No, you can’t watch from the balcony.” Go straight there! “

No surprise since activism is at the heart of a Christian’s DNA.

Grinch Who Stole Christmas

There is logic to this ban. Christmas is the feast of the birth of Christ. He shared our humanity so that we humans now have the opportunity to share the divinity of God. Awesome, isn’t it?

There is nothing more than sharing the divine nature which enhances the dignity of each of us. Following the Incarnation, Christ did not remain on the heavenly balcony, observing from a distance the weaknesses, strengths, bad, good and ugly mankind. He became one with humanity. He got involved, at the heart of the matter.

Nor did he sit in the comfort of an armchair playing the role of an armchair critic telling humanity what to do or not to do. He taught by example. Instead of an armchair, He chose a cross.

Christmas is not about alienation, rabid commercialization or consumerism. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas is molasses and the artificial image of Christmas that had been projected as the norm by neo-capitalist consumer society.

On the contrary, Christmas is based on the belief in a God so in love with us that he has become one of us. Christmas is a grandiose event of cosmic proportions, heralding a paradigm shift in the way we should experience our humanity and organize the world. It points to a radical political program that can achieve this.

Your Advent calendar should include two very important actions, which are part of the radical political program that emanates from the belief in the Incarnation: hope and activism.

Arouse hope

Many in Malta are losing hope. Most of our young people are fed up with corruption, greed and the exploitation of the environment, among other things. As a result, they want to leave the country.

You can only fully celebrate Christmas if you stop moaning, quit your proverbial, and start playing– Father Joe Borg

Many people my age also lose hope. They are resigned to believing that things cannot be changed. They surrendered to the demons who spread the story that all is lost. Thus, they are destined to sink into the quicksand of mediocrity.

Christmas is the antithesis of it all.

Let’s do something about it. Bishop Ricardo Valenzuela Ríos de Caacupé, Paraguay, has just published a pastoral letter entitled “Let’s organize hope”.

“We have the obligation to” organize hope “in Paraguay in order to leave behind the effects of the pandemic and to put an end to the national epidemic of impunity, because corruption also kills”, he said. he writes.

For him, true hope means that no one allows himself to be plunged into pessimism; translate it into concrete daily actions for the common good.

What concrete actions can you take to organize hope in your life and that of others?

Get out of the chair, become an activist

You can only fully celebrate Christmas if you stop moaning, let go of your proverbial, and start playing. Work to change structures, not just people.

Some examples follow.

Our economy is doing well, but the wealth is not evenly distributed. The gap between those who earn the most and those who earn the least is widening. The number of Maltese at risk of poverty or social exclusion rose from 89,382 in 2016 to 100,712 in 2020.

In addition to donating money, join an NGO fighting against the roots of poverty and help your parish group Diakonia.

Bishop Valenzuela Ríos’ reference to the killer epidemic of impunity and corruption could be written about Malta. So much dirt is revealed that many are now oblivious to it all, almost considering it to be the natural order of things, albeit an unfortunate order of things. Resist this temptation. Join an NGO fighting against impunity and corruption.

The throwaway culture is an essential by-product of the capitalist mentality. The discourse on the culture of the disposable is a leitmotif of this pontificate. This is a culture in which unwanted objects and people, such as unborn children, the elderly, migrants and the poor, are thrown out as trash. The throwaway culture has destroyed the environment, making planet Earth one of the weakest of the weak.

Protecting the rights of the weakest is what makes us human and the only way forward to build a humane and just society. Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi frequently said that “the rights of the weak are not weak rights”.

Don’t be part of this culture. Fight it by joining a political party, pro-life group, or environmental NGO.

Christmas is not only or primarily the time to be merry. Rather, now is the time to rekindle hope and activism.

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