Talking much about the countermeasures for the pandemic, some religious leaders point out the importance of living in brotherhood or fraternity and solidarity in our daily lives.
Following two encyclical letters, "Lumen Fidei" (The Light of Faith, 2013) and "Laudato Si'" (Praise be to you, my Lord, 2015), Pope Francis recently presented his third encyclical letter, "Fratelli Tutti" (All Brothers) on fraternity and social friendship. Inspired by St. Francis who regarded every creature as his brother and sister, this document was proclaimed at the church of St. Francis, in Assisi on October 3, 2020.
In this social encyclical letter, written with 287 articles divided in 8 chapters, Pope Francis sincerely calls for "a social love" that transcends all kinds of the barriers.
Much more than fraternity in solidarity, "Fratelli Tutti" is a plea to reject wars and nuclear weapons and terrorism by focusing on contemporary social and economic problems such as immigration, capital punishment, the dignity of women, wastefulness, consumerism, international politics, interreligious relations, racism, etc., and by proposing an ideal world with fraternity, equality, and liberty in which all countries can be part of a "larger human family".
The dark clouds of the pandemic and various other calamities will remain as long as we remain in a closed and throwaway world. Our dreams will be shattered by conflict and fear, and our historical consciousness will be diminished gradually.
Is there still hope? Where is hope? How can we create an open world with dialogue and friendship? How can we move beyond ourselves, our borders and limits? How can we live an open-mined, gracious, and universal love integrating everyone while promoting the moral good and the value of solidarity?
Deeply pondering on these fundamental questions, Pope Francis presents the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) as the theological core of the encyclical letter. The good Samaritan witnesses the beauty of bearing the pain of other people's wounds and troubles.
"The pain, uncertainty and fear, the realization of our own limitations, brought on by the pandemic have only made it all the more urgent that we rethink our styles of life, our relationships, the organization of our societies, and, above all, the meaning of our existence." (Fratelli Tutti, 33).
In the Jewish faith there is a concept of year called the Jubilee. When, according to the Book of Leviticus from the Torah, Hebrew slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven, and the mercies of God would be manifest. It bears particular significance to ownership and management of land in Israel.
Apparently we need a Jubilee year. The Jubilee year for the earth would not only protect and conserve our nature but also make us more mindful of every form of modern slavery; like human trafficking and child labor.
Above all, we shall have to look back at our way of consumption and eating habits to get rid of unnecessary and destructive aspects of life and to promote life itself. At the same time, we will have to reflect on excessive development of the land and profit-seeking activities performed by multinational companies.
More than ever, what is most needed for us is to witness the fraternal solidarity in faith. The pandemic invites us to recognize the interdependence and co-relationship of our beings. Whether close or far away, we are all interrelated with one another.
Even if the means are constantly changing, the essence of life remains the same. That is "love" in the name of fraternity, brotherhood, friendship, solidarity, and compassion.
"Love one another as I love you" (John 15:12).