‘On the Side of the Poor’ reminds us of the true purpose of theology
“Faith is a gift,” writes Dominican Father Gustavo Gutiérrez. “To receive this gift means putting oneself behind Jesus as he walks, putting his teachings into practice and proclaiming the reign of God. The act of faith stands at the beginning of all theology.”
Theology (and theology books) can seem intimidating. But ultimately, as famed theologian Gutiérrez notes, “theology is a speaking about God animated by faith.” In a historic collection of essays, On the Side of the Poor: The Theology of Liberation, theological giants Gutiérrez and Cardinal Gerhard Müller invite us into their speaking about God and the poor, always animated by faith.
Ever since Pope Francis began talking about his desire for a church “of the poor and for the poor,” liberation theology has been back in the headlines. While critics see it as controversial or outdated, Cardinal Müller, the current prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, does not. He argues, “liberation theology will not die as long as there are men and women who are motivated by God’s liberating action and pursue—by the measure of their faith and by the drive of their social action—their solidarity with their neighbors who are suffering, their neighbors whose dignity has been tossed into the trash.” Liberation theology, like Pope Francis, calls us to reject the throwaway culture.
In six essays, Müller and Gutiérrez detail the complex reality of multidimensional poverty and the gospel mandate for a preferential option for the poor, and they invite all the faithful into the fruits of their reflections. While the text may be challenging for non-theologians to read, those seeking to take up Pope Francis’ call to go to the margins and build a culture of solidarity will find On the Side of the Poor a satisfying and inspiring read.
Friday, October 23, 2015