ROUNDTABLE: Jon Sobrino, SJ and liberation theology

The following reflection is from Patrick Cashio, a GCW community member doing the Metanoia Semester with us. He gave a Roundtable on October 30th on the latest book by Jon Sobrino, SJ, No Salvation Outside the Poor: Prophetic-Utopian Essays

At first impulse, the title of Jon Sobrino’s latest book, No Salvation Outside the Poor, sounds erroneous, false, or unchristian. It is a disturbing title. The contents of the six essays inside are far more dissonant.  We must first look at the world through the eyes of the bible, through the lens in which the story of God’s children is told. It is told through the suffering Israelites coming out of slavery and oppression in Egypt.  It is told through the poor baby Jesus born in the backwaters of some fringe territory of the Roman Empire.  Sobrino makes bid at being a truly prophetic voice, at being a voice of a reality that can and should exist.  This is Liberation theology as Prophecy, not as a worldview or as a school of thought. The offensiveness of his disclaiming the “culture of wealth” for a “culture of poverty” makes us reel with hesitation. Ultimately the challenge of our salvation comes in our embrace of this other reality. This reality is one that prioritizes and understands those at the bottom, the least, the “crucified people” as being most important to God. 

In the title essay, Sobrino invites us to a few ways in which we can truly begin to embrace this new reality. He first suggests that we “comradely” insert ourselves into that world, as working partners and friends we become part of something which we are not used to, we insert ourselves into a new identity.  We can also make “unequivocal” service on the behalf of this other identity, this other reality. There also exists an opportunity for us to “run risksto defend the poor. Putting ourselves out there to really be embarrassed, arrested, scorned, and mocked in the name of the poor really seems like a true action of solidarity with the “crucified people.” “The difficulty [of the option for the poor] is also practical, since, as was the case for Jesus, the option for the poor leads to persecution, defamation, a feeling of being abandoned by old friends…”


Another way of entering into this new reality is by “sharing in their joys and their hopes.  One thing is true of God’s children, that despite their suffering there is something sacred and celebratory about the life of poverty whether voluntary or situational. 


Struggling with the challenges presented here by Sobrino and his many influences–like Ignacio Ellacuria, Oscar Romero and Dom Pedro Casaldaliga–we are challenged with a new set of questions. What is this war doing for/to the poor of Iraq? Where does my food come from and how did it get here? How am I combatting a dehumanizing system of wealth? Does this church truly reflect a Christ that is truly revealed in the Gospels?  What am I doing to take the “crucified people” down from the cross? 


Posted on 11/10/2008, in ROUNDTABLE and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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