Bono at the National Prayer Breakfast

A friend of a friend attended the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this month and heard Bono’s remarks.  We should all read his words, study them, digest them.  He is reminding all of us once again that religion is not just the purview of the extreme right-wing of this country’s red states.  Rather, it is a call to action to minister to the poor, to recognize our unity with those suffering on the other side of the world, and to actually make a choice to DO something about it:

Look, whatever thoughts you have about God, who He is or if He exists, most will agree that if there is a God, He has a special place for the poor.  In fact, the poor are where God lives. 

Check Judaism.  Check Islam.  Check pretty much anyone.

I mean, God may well be with us in our mansions on the hill…  I hope so.  He may well be with us as in all manner of controversial stuff… maybe, maybe not…  But the one thing we can all agree, all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor. 

God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house… God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives… God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war… God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them.  “If you remove the yolk from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, and if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom with become like midday and the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places”

It’s not a coincidence that in the Scriptures, poverty is mentioned more than 2,100 times.  It’s not an accident.  That’s a lot of air time, 2,100 mentions.  [You know, the only time Christ is judgmental is on the subject of the poor.]   ‘As you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.’  (Matthew 25:40).   As I say, good news to the poor.   

I particularly love how Bono describes our obligation to the poor as an issue of justice, not charity later in the speech.  We are not sitting in our particular position of power and privilege on our own – our fortune has been made on the backs of those less fortunate, and it’s time we do what’s right by them.  Making the ONE campaign and AIDS relief into a blessed act (one required by our inner conscience and/or our personal god) resonated with me.  We should all take action to make Bono’s vision in this speech a reality, regardless of our faith or our political party.
Other bloggers have dissected his speech further, including lots of Christian bloggers saying stuff that I both agree and disagree with. (I was frankly surprised at the lack of secular, lefty bloggers talking about Bono’s impressive speech…). For a taste of what’s out there, check out:  Mark Driscoll, Musings, Josh Swihart, and Against the Grain.

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