Cardinal John Dew
One of the world’s great works of art is the fresco of The Last Judgement by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. Many millions of people have looked at that since it was completed in 1541. Many will have seen it as a work of art ‒ millions will have seen more than the colours and the intriguing figures and the stories behind them; and will have also reflected on their own lives and how they will be judged by God at the end of time.
Maybe people have looked at the fresco and thought of Chapter 25 of Matthew’s Gospel and of the words of Jesus about what we will be judged on.
‘I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you gave me no clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me’ (Matthew 25: 42-43).
If you were to read those words in the New Zealand Catholic edition of The Poverty and Justice Bible you would find Jesus’ words highlighted in orange. In fact you would find every word of the Bible which speaks of poverty and justice also highlighted. The passages are highlighted to help the reader, the pray-er, to know that God has a deep concern for the poor and for all those who suffer from injustices of any kind. Those who use this Bible are also encouraged to use their own highlighter to mark other passages that both inspire and challenge them.
Bible Society New Zealand, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, and The Catholic Institute of Aotearoa New Zealand have worked together to bring this Poverty and Justice Bible to New Zealanders. This collaborative effort has the blessing and the full support of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.
Bible Society New Zealand and Caritas are to be thanked deeply for this work. It is a wonderful work. It is a resource that will challenge us to do whatever we can to overcome poverty in New Zealand and overseas and to work ceaselessly to, as Pope Francis says, ‘Give a voice to the cry of the poor’.
We know there will be a Last Judgement, we know we will be judged on how we either cared for or did not care for others. The words of Jesus to us are ‘Just as you did this to one of the least of those who are members of my family you did it to me’ (Matthew 25: 40). Reading, reflecting, praying with the words of Scripture will transform our hearts and enable us to transform the world.
In a letter endorsing this New Zealand edition of the Poverty and Justice Bible, Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace wrote, ‘By developing a greater love for Scripture and being more aware of social justice issues throughout the world, we are better able to make positive change’.
The Bible will be formally launched in the parish of Te Awakairangi at Ss Peter and Paul Church on Sunday 13 September at 5.30pm Mass. This will also be the formal launch of Social Justice Week and of the campaign of Bible Society New Zealand and Caritas called ‘Buy One, Gift One’. If you buy a copy of this Bible for yourself then another copy will be given to someone who cannot afford to buy their own.
I would love to see generous support for the ‘Buy One, Gift One’ Campaign.
The more Bibles sold, the more people will have the opportunity to read and pray deeply those words of sacred scripture which will inspire and enable us to make the world – ‘Our Common Home’ – a better place to live.
At the launch of The Poverty and Justice Bible, on 13 September at an evening Mass at Ss Peter and Paul Mass Centre in Lower Hutt, Cardinal John will bless the specially developed Bible.The ‘Buy One, Gift One’ campaign, inspired by Pope Francis, has been developed by Bible Society New Zealand in partnership with Caritas. ‘Pope Francis is passionate about people living the gospel of Jesus and he has a deep concern for those who suffer from injustice and live lives of poverty,’ says Cardinal John. It is expected many Catholic parishes throughout New Zealand will participate in the launch and the campaign in the coming months.