Advent: Good news for the poor?

As Christians we are often heard complaining about the ‘commercialisation’ of Christmas.

And yet most of us would admit that, despite the frenetic pull towards consumerism, there is also an underlying ‘good will’ effect at this time of year which is mindful of those less well-off and puts a human face on poverty.

There will be media pieces about the homeless and special collections for the needy. Is this just cheap sentimentalism?

And yet our world needs something more substantial. The Great Recession has added considerably to the ranks of the poor, and, in our own parts of the world, to those who struggle under the yoke of so-called austerity.

Growing inequality, a culture of entitlement among top executives, environmental strain and a ‘financialisation’ of economies are just some of the symptoms of a deep malaise at the heart of the present phase of global capitalism.

Commenting on the latter in the context of the fifth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, economic journalist Dan O’Brien notes that there is much evidence to suggest that the financial system has not been sufficiently restructured and re-regulated to avoid a repetition of the recent catastrophe.

Why is this so? Partly due to vested interests and inertia, but, more worryingly, O’Brien argues that ‘complexity has also worked against change. The truth is that nobody fully understands how the system works, making change more difficult’.

In similar vein cultural commentator Michael Cronin observes how ‘the Market has come to function as a kind of dark version of transcendence … a parody of a pagan deity, irascible, touchy, and only to be appeased with pledges of sacrifices and the burnt offerings of public services’.

The readings for the First Sunday of Advent speak to this situation. Continue reading.

Gerry O’Hanlon SJ is based at Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice in Dublin. 

Source: ThinkingFaith

Image: Telecom Foundation

Additional reading

News category: Features.

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