URC Daily Devotion Friday 10th May 2024

Reading  Isaiah 58:3-6

‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
    ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
    and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
    and exploit all your workers.
 Your fasting ends in quarrelling and strife,
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.
 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?

Reflection

Mobile phones are ubiquitous, an extension, almost, of one’s self and life. Our smartphones connect us, for better, and for worse. Without WhatsApp, my mother cannot check in on her itinerant daughter and, for me, that little green icon tethers me to family, wherever I am in the world. And yet, what is tethered, or shall we say ‘yoked’ to that mobile phone? 

The lithium ion essential to the recharging of our phones, laptops and electric vehicles contains cobalt – more than 60% of the world’s supply is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  The men, women and children who mine it work in the most terrible conditions; poor wages, danger of sexual abuse, risking injury and death.  The expansion of multinational mining corporations, as part of  the move to ‘greener’ electric vehicles, has led to communities being forced from their homes and farmland. An Amnesty report found that at least 80 miners died underground in southern DRC between September 2014 and December 2015 alone. Right now, as you listen to or read this reflection, a war rages in the Congo, with many armed groups and national armies fighting each other. Many armed groups are supported by the global organisations that covet Congo’s vast natural resources particularly cobalt. 

What yoke do we hold when we pick up our mobile phones? Do we hear the cries and the demonstrations of the workers protesting these conditions and conflicts, asking for their lives, land, dignity, and a peaceful existence?

Perhaps the fast that is asked of us now is to listen, pay attention, and also act. Pope Francis teaches that when we include the voices of the oppressed, not as victims but as those demanding liberation and full participation, we may be choosing the fast God demands.*  We must question even ‘green’ policies to critique if they are with and for the poor.  The fast asked of us is uncompromising solidarity with the poor.

*(Fratelli Tutti, Laudate Deum).

Prayer 

Creator,
wake us and make us attentive to the poor.
Shake up our complicity and indifference 
to structural injustice.
Give us clear minds and brave hearts
to see you where you say you are, 
to the fast you choose.
Help us work for the radical justice you proclaim! 
Open our hearts to the work of solidarity.
Keep alive the flame of hope and justice in us, 
so that we may do what you ask.
Amen.

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