Richard S. Vosko

Musings on religion, art and architecture


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Homily – 7 February 2016 – Christianity on a Collision Course


Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) – Christianity on a Collision Course

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It does not matter that professional football is a big business that pays huge salaries to players, coaches and owners all thanks to our cable TV bills and lucrative advertisements. Millions across the globe will still watch the game tonight. 

It does not matter whether we like football or not. Our tax dollars underwrite the cost of constructing arenas to house sporting events in our communities. Millions of us buy price-inflated tickets and flock to these temples to adore the saints in what has become a new Americanized religion. 

It does not matter that over one hundred professional players and innumerable college kids and youngsters suffer or die from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — the game of football for most viewers is still a form of entertainment.

In football, as in any game except golf, the goal is to score more points than the opponent. To do so offensive linesmen protect their quarterback who is expected to find ways to score touchdowns. The defense is paid handsomely to rush and crush the quarterback, tackle a running back or receiver. Vince Lombardi, the legendary 1960s coach of the Green Bay Packers, called football a “collision sport.”

Religion is somewhat similar. With our own rules and regulations people affiliated with a faith tradition strive to win at all costs. The objective in our game is to beat down not only hunger, prejudice and oppression but also human trafficking and domestic violence — two problems that escalate during big sporting events. Over time we find that religious cultures inevitably will clash with secular ones. Our differences are the sources of so many tensions in the United States today. Just listen to the rhetoric in the presidential debates.

Last weekend, in her homily, Betsy Rowe-Manning proposed that to live a wonderful life [as Christians] we are compelled to “make trouble.” I took her message to mean that we have to speak out and act against any person or institution, any law or cultural custom, that thrives on acts of injustice. In this sense, like the game of football, our religion is on a collision course with the opposition. Our heads are to butt up against the opponents of equality. Some people will get hurt. Some will leave the game. Some will quit the team.

How did this happen? Is not religion supposed to provide harmony and peace in our lives? Isn’t it the path to creating wholesome relationships with God and one another? Isn’t faith geared to make us feel good, give us hope especially when we are down and out? I think that to be a religious or spiritual person today requires a “both/and” attitude. We cannot be content with seeking to make things better for ourselves without doing so for others. We cannot go out on the field of life without practicing or expecting no opposition. To be good we have to be troublemakers knowing we may not win every game.

Our sacred texts, our traditions and life experiences teach us how to be good and holy, to act responsibly, to live justly and humbly. We model our lives after Jesus of Nazareth, his Spirit and other contemporary prophets, parents, coaches, teachers. 

Jesus was an itinerant apocalyptic Jew. He believed the world was in very bad shape. He saw that oppressors treated people unfairly and brutally. He sensed that society needed a savior who could cross the line of scrimmage, gain first downs and score touchdowns. He also knew that the odds were stacked up against him. Jesus was an underdog. He needed help from his teammates. The cross was too heavy.

Jesus never thought of himself as a star quarterback, the franchise player who would win every game. No. He himself got sacked, was thrown for a loss and was ultimately defeated. It was when he got up again that others came to believe in him and his game plan. During Lent we will learn more about Jesus and his desire to win — how he overcame devilish temptations and forgave adulterers; how he told stories about a long lost child who was welcomed home and how barren trees can bear good fruit.

As I read about Jesus I think he was a troubled but optimistic Jew. He passionately believed that life could be better especially if you are willing to work at it. Consider today’s gospel. “You didn’t catch any fish this morning? Go back out and cast those nets into the sea. There will be lots of fish to catch, to share and keep for yourselves.”

The disciples doubted his idealism. They said they worked hard but still came up empty handed. Life as Jesus modeled it is hard work. Advocating for peace and justice takes time. Working with enemies requires diplomacy. Overcoming illness and poverty does not happen easily. Sometimes we win. But ohh how we hate to lose.

I will watch the game tonight. I will watch it as I look at and play other games because of the challenges that face every player, every team. I will marvel at the skills honed by hours of practice. I will see the delight in the faces of little kids when their heroes succeed. For a couple of hours the game provides a fantasy filled opportunity to imagine what it takes to win — hard work and a little bit of luck.

There is something about football and other sports that could serve as a metaphor for living. Our country like our religion is built on hard work, standing up to oppressive governments, fighting for just causes and winning no matter what the cost. 

Christianity is not a perfect religion. Like football and the game of life, however, it is exciting, troubling and still very unfair. Often players, coaches and owners do not agree on how to play the game. Yet, Christianity is a two century old religion with over two billion players on the team. We still have a game to play on this planet. We just have to keep practicing with the joyful hope that mercy and justice will win in the end. But we have to play together. There is no letter “I” in the word “team.”


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Next Homily on February 7th


Hi Everyone: Apologies for not letting you know sooner. My next homiletic effort will be presented on February 7th which is also the day of the Super Bowl. The gospel for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time on the Catholic calendar tells the story of the disciples working hard but catching few fish. Jesus tells them they will catching people in the future. I am wondering about how, for many, sports has not only become a national pastime and an escape from reality but also a new religion that just might be a substitute for traditional faith traditions. Check back on February 7th! RV


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Homily – Epiphany Sunday 2016 – Christmas Does Not Belong to Christians


Epiphany Sunday – January 3, 2016 – Christmas Does Not Belong to Christians

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Three Kings, Ravenna, Italy

Three Kings, Ravenna, Italy

Can you believe that there were no Christians present during the birth of Jesus? Joseph, Mary and the shepherds were all Jews. And who were the three kings? Those visitors from the East were not Jewish but belonged to the Persian priestly line of Zoroastrianism. They were philosophers who studied the stars. Their religious practice was akin to astrology and wizardry. The words “magi” and “magic” have something in common here.

But, why should any of this matter to us today? How can we unwrap this scene from the Christmas story? Our religion links the past with the present as it looks to the future. We remember our traditions, we give new shape to them, we look forward to better days. This secular time of year is a good example. The month of January gets its name from the Roman god Janus, the animistic spirit of doorways or thresholds. Scholars consider Janus the god of new beginnings.

The image of Janus has two faces. One gazes forward while the other looks to the rear. You and I look back on all of the good and bad stories of 2015. We look ahead and make resolutions so 2016 might be more peaceful and productive. What better way is there for us to start a new year than by opening doors of possibilities, or in the words of Pope Francis, doors of mercy?

Our biblical stories help us link the past, the present and future. Scholar Raymond Brown [1] reminds us Matthew’s story of the magi may be traced to the Book of Numbers in the Hebrew bible. In that story Balak, the bad king of Moab, wanted to destroy Moses just like, perhaps, Herod wanted to murder the boy Jesus. Balak summoned Balaam, an occult visionary from the East, to curse Moses and the Israelites. However, Balaam had a “favorable vision of the future” and blessed the kingdom of Judah instead of destroying it.

Joseph Ratzinger [2] in his study of the infancy narratives points out that Balaam, a non-Jew, prophesied that a star shall rise up from the tribe of Jacob. Astronomically speaking this was not to be a celestial star. Theologically speaking, Jesus of Nazareth would be the radiant star who would dispel the evil shadows of the world. The reading from Isaiah today announces that all nations shall walk by this bright light.

Although the story of the magi may not be factual [see Micah 5:2] it could help us imagine a couple of things. The bright star in the heavens, which allegedly guided the astronomers to the newborn babe in Bethlehem, may also point metaphorically to the Christ who existed before creation but was not yet revealed to humanity. Author Marilynne Robinson called the birth of Jesus Christ an “outcropping of a reality that existed throughout creation and for all time.” [3]

The tale of the wise priests from the Far East could also suggest to us, in the words of Matthew Taylor, that “Christmas does not belong to Christians alone.” In the second reading we heard how Paul had a revelation, an idea, that the mission and message of Jesus of Nazareth was not intended for his followers only. Paul announced it was a way of life available to all nations, all people. This does not mean that everyone should convert to Christianity. It does mean that Christians can evangelize others by their good example, their acts of mercy.

The nativity story then alerts us to the role our faith plays on the world stage. We believe that by trusting in a God who rescues the poor and the afflicted, who nurtures humanity with justice and peace (Ps. 72) can illuminate all peoples and give us hope. Our collaboration with diverse faith traditions, and not just Christian ones, is essential if the star of the universe is to shine at all.

This revelation of God is entrusted to each and every one of us. We can add our own stories, our own epiphanies to the story. Our individual and collective discoveries of God and our responses to God’s radiance are as important as any biblical story we tell.

So, there were no Christians present when Jesus was born. Since that time, however, Christianity has grown. It is the largest religion on the planet although studies show that by 2050 Islam will have almost as many members. Can a deeper respect emerge among the religions born of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar? Could the visit of the magi be a prophetic one that invites all of humanity to share gifts with one another out of love rather than to fight to the death because of greed and power?

The birth of Jesus of Nazareth continues to have an impact on all of us. This annual feast beckons you and me to treasure the past, to walk humbly today and to step forward into a year of grace, a time of mercy, when, hopefully, at last, the lions and the lambs will sleep together.

_______

  1.  Brown, Raymond. An Adult Christ at Christmas. Collegeville: the Liturgical Press, 1987, 11
  2.  Ratzinger, Joseph. Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives. New York: Image Books, 2012,  91-92
  3. Robinson, Marilynne. The Givenness of Things: Essays by Marilynne Robinson. NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015 in Steinfels, Margaret O’Brien, “Eternally Begotten” Commonweal, 12/22/15


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Homily – 20 December 2015 – Birthing Jesus


Mary and Child by Guido Reni 15c

“Virgin and Child” by Guido Reni (1575-1642)

Fourth Sunday of Advent C – 20 December 2015 – Birthing Jesus

Click here for today’s scriptures

Of all the religious paintings and sculptures in the history of art the image of Mary holding her child Jesus ranks at the top. Victorian renderings of Mary idolizing her son in a crib while a puzzled Joseph looks on greet us every Christmastime. The portrayal that is most unfamiliar to us in this country shows Mary nursing a contented baby Jesus.

This maternal rendering of Mary and her child is part of popular Catholic culture in many countries around the world. Why not here? Could it be we cannot bear to see Mary’s breast? Maybe the image is too real and religion for many is too surreal?

Works of art tell familiar stories. They also add new insights to old tales. Imagine. Mary, a Middle Eastern teenager, nursing, nurturing a vulnerable and thirsty infant Jesus, the promised messiah! 

This wonderful mythology casts light on parent child relationships and  human interdependence. The experience of God relies on us. The image of Mary breastfeeding the infant Jesus reminds us that all of us are mothers of God birthing the presence of Christ into the world.

Angels, we believe, are messengers from God yet in today’s gospel Mary did not believe the spirited Gabriel. She had to double check with someone she could see and touch. Mary needed a hug! She needed something the angel could not deliver. According to the story her cousin Elizabeth prophetically recognized the presence of Christ in Mary. She cried out, “Blessed are you among women, blessed is the fruit of your womb ….” Notice, blessed are both the mother and child.

Then, and only then, a confused, terrified Mary remembered lines from Hannah’s Song, a song of reversal found in the Book of Samuel. Scared to death, Mary sang out — greedy, powerful oppressors will lose out to poor, vulnerable people.

Often we too doubt the presence of God in our lives until someone touches us with tender love and care. On the other hand we can make it difficult for others to see God in us. Distractions in our lives can shorten our attention spans, cloud our perspectives, sometimes prevent us from living out a radicalized Christian mission.

We underestimate our worth, the value of other humans, our planet and all other creatures. Maybe we have limited our understanding of the incarnation as only the birth of a baby who would grow up and then die to save us from sin. What more is there to this story?

Without denying his mission or his death what might happen when we concentrate more on Jesus who, by his lifestyle, showed us how to to suckle one another with comforting milk and honey? When we practice bold hospitality toward others, when we nestle homeless and hungry persons in our laps, Christ shines through the mirky shadows of life.

Today our country and the world are caught in one long night of bad dreams. But something in our gut, perhaps it is our faith and hope, tells us at the end of such a nightmarish time the sun will rise again. 

A few years ago T. Thorn Coyle wrote about the winter solstice, which happens tomorrow. It is “a chance to still ourselves inside, to behold the glory of the cosmos, and to take a breath with the Sacred.” Great hope and promise are waking in the earth.

This season of Advent has come to an end. Four weeks ago Betsy Rowe-Manning invited us to “become the birthing place of God among us.” On the last two Sundays I asked “well, what are we waiting for” and “what should we do next.” 

The psalm this morning helps us move forward. It reminds you and me that if we turn to the radiance of the “son” we will experience salvation. That bright light, that gift of redemption, is a force deep within each and everyone of us. It is just waiting to be delivered.


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Homily – 13 December 2015 – What Should We Do?


Third Sunday of Advent C – 13 December 2015 – “What Should We Do?”

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Those who chose these biblical texts would not have known how timely they would be for us today. Two powerful human emotions are mixed together — joys and anxieties.

In the first reading the prophet Zephaniah warned the people of Judah that they would be punished because of their acts of injustice and corruption. Zephaniah said by placing their credence in God they would have nothing to fear and would be saved. Only a small remnant listened. To trust in God requires not only faith but also action.

I heard a preacher once say, “the appearances of God in those old biblical stories, as in the one we just heard, were, more often than not, associated with moments of trial and tribulation. They rarely happened when everyone was having a good day.”

We are in a similar situation today. This is a season to be jolly but noxious news informs us that things are not good globally, in our country and for some people. Where is God? How can this world come to reflect God’s vision for a planet without violence, injustice, oppression? [1]

Recent strategies to fix the refugee problem and thwart the threats of terrorism frighten many us and others worldwide. One community denounced recent anti-Muslim rhetoric as morally unconscionable and appalling.

The statement said, such hatred is “generations old and part of a system that thrives on the dehumanization, scapegoating and marginalization of diverse communities.” You and I must repudiate any political or religious ideology that denigrates groups of people because of color, creed or nationality. We must oppose anyone who spews it.

[NOTE: See the Q & A at the end of this homily for some information on Islam and Muslims. The sheet was distributed in our parish this weekend.]

In Luke’s gospel John the Baptizer continues to serve as the warm up act for Jesus. Filled with enthusiasm that someone was finally coming, who would clean up an oppressive socio-political mess, a diverse group of people questioned John. How do we prepare for the One who is to come? What should we do? John’s reply addressed the inequities marked by greed and prejudice. We wonder too. What should we do to recognize God’s presence?

I suspect we are doing our best. We who gather around this holy table, who align ourselves with people worshiping in different faith traditions, are cognizant of the troubles and fears that we and others live with. But, we are ministers of joy and mercy. We have learned in this sacred space that our prayers and hopes carry us beyond these walls and equip us with the strength and conviction that the great and holy One is in our midst (Isaiah 12).

Nadia Bolz-Weber, who spoke at the Hubbard Sanctuary last Friday, is an unpretentious pastor who helps saints and sinners recognize the presence of Christ in each other. “No one gets to play Jesus,” she said. “But we do get to experience Jesus in that holy place where we meet others’ needs and have our own needs met. We are all the needy and the ones who meet needs.”

The Vatican Two Ecumenical Council ended fifty years ago last week. In retrospect, we see one of the documents echoes the same message. In the opening lines of the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World it reads, the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the people of this age are also the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.

This teaching calls us to work with others to secure a peace based on justice and love, to set up agencies of peace and to do so with the help of Christ. Peace cannot be obtained unless personal values are safeguarded with a determination to respect other peoples and their dignity. [2]

In the letter to the Philippians, Paul urges us to rejoice and have no fears or anxiety. He reminds us to share a simple gift — to be kind and merciful to one another. He concluded, the peace of God will win out in the end. Now that’s good news.

________

  1.  Kent Harold Richard in Attridge, Harold W. (Ed.) The Harper Collins Study Bible NRSV (San Francisco: Harper) 1989, p. 1260
  2.  Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, December 7, 1965, Nos 77-78

LEARNING MORE ABOUT ISLAM and MUSLIMS

In recent weeks some words and phrases have been used in the media in reference to Muslims and Islam. This Q & A list, drawn from different sources, may be helpful in sorting out misunderstandings. Of course, there is much more to the Islamic faith than can fit on this handout. [RSV]

What does the word Islam mean?

Islam is an Arabic word and means “surrendering to God and attaining peace.” Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world and in the United States.

Is there a reference to Islam in the bible?

Jews and Christians trace ancestry to Isaac, son of Abraham and Sarah. Muslims believe they are descendants of Ishmael the son of Abraham and Hagar. So it may be said that Muslims, Jews and Christians have the same ancestral father!

Did Ishmael and Abraham build anything?

Abraham and Ishmael built a shrine in the Valley of Baca now called Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It is the holiest city in Islam. Medina, also in Saudi Arabia, is the second holiest city. The sacred Ka’bah, a large granite cube, is located in Mecca.

What does the word “hajj” mean?

Hajj means pilgrimage. The prophet Ishmael encouraged nomads in the desert to visit the shrine in the Valley of Baca. Today, all able Muslims must make a journey to the Ka’bah shrine in Mecca once in a lifetime to find meaning in life.

Where does Mohammed come in?

The prophet Mohammad was born in 570 CE (Common Era) and died when he was 62 years old. He is considered the founder of modern Islam. His sayings (ahadith) and writings form the basis of Muslim law today.

What is the Qur’an?

Muslims believe the Qur’an is the direct word of God delivered to Mohammed by an angel in small portions between the years 610-623 CE. Also spelled Koran, it means “reading” or “recital.”

Does the Qur’an call for violence again non-Muslims?

No. The Qur’an condemns aggression and sees all religions as gifts from the same God. The book does allow for fighting back against enemies but not to harm or kill innocent persons. ISIS terrorists are ignoring Islamic teachings.

What does jihad mean? Who is a jihadist?

The word “jihad” means “struggle, effort or endeavor.” It does not mean holy war. It could mean fighting for God’s sake, going to school or working for the good of others. The Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daish) or independent terrorists are “jihadists” in a very narrow sense of the word. Islamic law forbids terrorism.

Why do terrorists and suicide bombers cry out “Allah is great!”

People do use the name of God to justify their actions. History shows that extremists often misuse religion to rationalize wars and other brutal actions.

What does the word Shari’ah mean?

Literally, shari’ah means the path to the watering hole. It is the word for the Islamic legal system. It is a body of moral and religious law derived from prophetic teachings and not human legislation.

What about human rights in Muslim countries?

While Islam does not support or propose inequality, the struggle for human rights for women and men is not unique to Muslim countries or the Islamic religion.

Who is a caliph?

A caliph or “kalifah” is a political and religious successor to Mohammed. Today, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, is considered the Caliph of the Islamic State by his supporters. A caliphate is a form of Islamic government. Shiites believe a caliph should be an imam (prayer leader), sinless, infallible and chosen by God.

Who are Sunnis? Shiites?

Although Islam is officially against sectarianism, there are many sects in Islam. Eighty-five percent of Muslims in the world are Sunnis. The Islamic State is a Salafi militant sect that practices a fundamentalist Wahabi doctrine of Sunni Islam.

Who are Salafis? Wahabis?

Salafi jihadism is an ideology based on violent jihadism and is practiced by Muslims who want to return to what they believe to be true Sunni Islam. Wahhabism and its extreme ideas of purity is a minority practice in the Muslim world. Osama bin Laden practiced Wahhabism.

What are the five pillars of Islam?

Faith, prayer, charity, fasting and a pilgrimage to Mecca. Christians, Jews and other major religions in the world practice the first four. Pray for understanding, reconciliation and peace.


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Homily – 6 December 2015 – What Are We Waiting For?


Second Sunday of Advent C – What Are We Waiting For?

Click here for today’s scriptures

I like to think of Advent as a time when we are waiting to see what what will happen next. After the Lord’s Prayer during every Mass we hear these words. “As we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” What exactly is it that we are waiting for?

We believe that what we call the “second coming” of Christ will be a time when the familiar prophecy of Isaiah becomes a reality. Valleys shall be filled, mountains shall be made low, winding and rough roads will be made straight and smooth. For us, we hope, it would mean an end to terrorism, hunger, global warming and all other injustices. 

Another term for the “second coming of Christ” is “parousia.” In Greek the word means “being present.” It is not about waiting for something but recognizing what is happening now and engaging with it. Mary the Mother of Jesus was filled with hope in this regard. God will cast down the mighty from their thrones, lift up lowly persons and fill hungry people with good things. God will not forget to be merciful. 

In another translation of Mary’s Song Bishop John Spong used these words. The light of the holy one is within me. This gift is not for the proud for they have no room for it. The strong and self-sufficient ones do not have this awareness [of the light that shines within them]. 

Jesus, according to biblical scholar Karen King, taught that people sin because they do not recognize their own spiritual nature [1] — the light of Christ within them. Paul reminded the Philippians that they were blessed with knowledge and perception. How long will you and I wait before we affirm that we are holy people made as the image of God?

Tonight our Jewish friends begin the celebration of Chanukah a festival of lights celebrating national liberation. The story began about 170 years before Jesus was born. Jerusalem was ruled by Greek imperialism. King Antiochus IV tried to force the Jews to reject their religion but they revolted. After a three year war the Jews regained and rededicated the temple in Jerusalem. The word “Chanukah” means “dedication.” 

Jesus would have celebrated Chanukah (John 10:22). He would have remembered how his ancestors opposed ruthless dictators. He would have identified with the arduous and fatal journeys of the Israelites. Perhaps also he would have thought of the Baruch text we heard earlier, “God is leading Israel in joy by the light of God’s glory, with mercy and justice for company.”

In the gospel of Luke the author references the civic and religious leaders in office at the time of Jesus’ birth. He did so to situate the important role Jesus played into the history of humanity. To set the stage for Jesus, John the baptizer advertised a baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

That Jesus was born to redeem us from our sins, to suffer and die so that we might live forever, is a standard Christian doctrine. New Testament scholar Hal Taussig, however, provides a slightly different interpretation of this teaching. He suggests that redemption has much more to do with our role in bringing reconciliation, peace and justice into the world.

This notion changes things. Instead of emphasizing that Jesus came to save us from this mess, Taussig proposes that we focus on another facet of his incarnation. Jesus came to show us how to live, how to be human, how to love, how to show mercy to one another. [2] When this happens we will experience the redemptive actions that Jesus carried out.

Next week Pope Francis will open a symbolic door in Rome to begin a Jubilee Year of Mercy. What does it ask of us? Taking the first step in acts of forgiving when it hurts to do so, letting go of small annoyances without mentioning them, seeing another’s need and responding without waiting to be asked. Rabbi Michael Lerner wrote that Chanukah and Christmas are times to return to hope. “No one is permanently stuck in cynicism and despair …. We have the capacity to choose a new path.”

In her homily last week Betsy Rowe-Manning challenged us to spend these Advent Days “becoming the birthing place of God among us!” If we do that much, and in our own ordinary ways, maybe we will not have to wait so long for peace and justice to become realities. So. What are we waiting for?

_______

  1.  King, Karen. The Gospel of Mary Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Disciple. (Santa Rosa: Polebridge Press, 2003) 4
  2.  Taussig, Hal. “The Gospel of Luke.” In the Got Sermon? Lectures. Union Theological Seminary, New York. November 12, 2015. From my class notes.


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Op-Ed Piece – 29 November 2015 – Living Wage … a Moral Imperative


Living Wage in N.Y. … a Moral Imperative [1]

Low-wage workers across the country have been pressing for a $15 minimum wage and union rights. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stated that he will push to phase in a $15 per hour minimum wage across New York.

While there are differing viewpoints about how a minimum wage increase will impact the economy, the heart of the debate is not an economic disagreement. It is a moral one. There is a more fundamental question is: “Who in our society deserves to live a decent life?” 

As a Catholic priest, I believe all people deserve a decent life. My church is not alone in its teachings that all creation, all life, has value. Christians are in accord with other faith traditions and with people who do not adhere to a religious belief system in this matter. We share an uncompromising commitment to uphold the inherent dignity of all human beings.

Tragically, the way our economy is currently structured, millions of New Yorkers find themselves stuck in poverty with no access to a basic standard of living. According to the Department of Labor, a single adult in New York State needs to make $15.91 per hour at a full time job to provide for themselves. Almost half of working New Yorkers make less than that, and almost 2 million make the minimum wage of $8.75 or just above that.

Those of us who believe in the dignity of all people should take offense at these numbers. In our society, wages are the primary means to a decent life. In 1963 Pope John XXIII wrote that all human beings have the right to bodily integrity and to the means required for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest and necessary social services. Pope Francis has reiterated these rights. But millions of New Yorkers instead can only find jobs that keep them in poverty or near poverty. 

The issue of income inequality is not about supporting any political or religious ideology. It is not even about socialism vs. capitalism. It is about a moral imperative to provide all workers with a wage that can enable individuals and families to live with dignity. It is time for the minimum wage to be a living wage for all workers all across New York State.

____

  1. Albany Times Union – Perspective Section – November 29, 2015 – Page D1
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