We were talking about how those living in the slums in Kolkata are ignored and rejected by society, especially the rich and powerful. My friend seeks to change that and make the community aware of the plight of those in the slums and share the love of Jesus with them.
I was reminded of the Gospel's where Jesus declares 'sinners' to be forgiven. Now Jesus was certainly declaring that God had indeed forgiven them, but he was also transforming their status in society. The rich and powerful were the ones who had labelled certain groups as 'sinners' thereby stripping them of any voice or status within the community. The rich and powerful made the decisions and oppressed, rejected and abused the poor and powerless. Calling them sinners kept them as powerless and oppressed.
Jesus' action of forgiveness released them from these labels and redeemed them within society. Jesus declared that they were equals in the sight of God, that their voice was heard by God and that they were loved by God. Jesus came and brought freedom and love. Jesus transformed the way they saw themselves and the way that society should see them.
The Church is called to continue in this calling. The Church is not there to be a source of power and wealth. The Church must never put people in boxes or label people. The Church must never silence or oppress, but be a means through which those who suffer injustice find justice, those who are silenced and oppressed are given a voice and freedom. We are called to be Jesus followers in words and actions.
We need to enable people to be released out of the boxes and labels that the rich and powerful have put them in. We need to go to where the poor and oppressed are and give away life and love, grace and truth. And we must NEVER, EVER be the oppressors.