While there is a lower class I am in it…
While there is a soul in prison I am not free. Eugene V.Debs

In light of Holy Week and the COVID-19 pandemic are we being drawn to deeper listening and to see and experience the pain around us?

We are experiencing a global movement of compassion. To suffer with – even to death! So many things need to die in order to give rise to new life.

The joy of the resurrection is evident now as we recalibrate and “proclaim the year of God’s favour”. The world has not been responsive to the desperate plight of many people who are vulnerable, poor and in prison. The changes ahead will involve loss for many of us. Every person has an evolutionary impulse to be more and to love more.

So much of our language, our systems, our institutions are absolutely wrong. In Australia at least one third of adults and children in our prisons are on remand (not convicted of any offence), are being exposed, by their living conditions, to COVID-19. Prisoners in Australia do not have access to hand sanitisers and if they cannot afford to buy soap they will not have access to their basic hygiene needs. In Chicago and Louisiana recent data collection is showing that about seventy percent of people dying of COVID-19 are African American even though they are a minority in both areas. Aboriginal people in Australia are highly vulnerable and are likely to die if they contract COVID-19 as many have comorbidities, and, to our national shame, live in overcrowded and appalling housing conditions. The pandemic is a time for global transformation as the universe invites and moves all of us towards new life…

In 1667, during the Great Plague, Isaac Penington wrote to the Quaker community:

Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand.Isaac Penington

For generations now countries all over the world have chosen economics over people. Systemic oppression, institutional poverty and racism are endemic. Is our local and global community being compelled by soul destroying conditions and injustice to join with Simon of Cyrene and accompany Jesus to Calvary?

We know that Jesus didn’t die to pay for our sins – Jesus died after choosing, with his life:

…to bring good news to those who are poor, to proclaim liberty to those held captive, recover the sight of the blind and release those in prison, and proclaim the year of God’s favour”.Luke 4:18

Kenise Neill rsj