Luke Stocking

Luke Stocking

Stocking is Development and Peace Deputy Director of Public Awareness & Engagement, Ontario and Atlantic Regions.

I come like a beggar with a gift in my hand. These are the opening lyrics to a song by Sydney Carter that I learned as part of the Toronto Catholic Worker community many years ago. As we enter the season of Lent and its call to prayer, fasting and almsgiving, I find myself quietly singing it to myself. The song continues, “By the hungry I will feed you, by the poor I’ll make you rich, by the broken I will mend you, tell me which one is which.”

Over my 14 years working at Development and Peace – Caritas Canada I have given a countless number of public presentations and workshops on our mission. This has involved sharing story after story of the violence, poverty and injustice of our broken world. Of all the questions people have asked me, there is one that arises again and again: “How do you stay hopeful?”

Some years ago, our priest opened his Advent sermon with some observations about how early our Western society begins to market Christmas to us.

The pandemic has led to a resurgence in the tradition of family board games, including one called Pandemic. My own family has favoured a word association game called Codenames. There is another game on our shelf though that I find myself thinking about these days — Monopoly. 

In a recent interview with Global News, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that his government will put forward an “ambitious agenda” for a green recovery. “We know the world is going towards lower carbon,” he said. It appears that he is willing to stake the fate of his minority government on such an agenda.

The killing of George Floyd by a police officer and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement to end white supremacy and systemic racism led me to reflect on an early memory I have from my journey of work towards being an anti-racist Catholic.

At a time when mother nature has “sent us to our rooms” (as one viral post put it), the digital world has opened its arms wide to embrace us. It is a reality that I have been reflecting on during this pandemic.

I had a coronavirus earlier this year.

Not THAT coronavirus. It was just a common cold, which is one of the many types of coronaviruses out there.

Fifteen years ago, on Feb. 12, a 73-year-old nun walked along a rural road in the Amazon region of Para state in Brazil. She was followed by two men with guns — Clodoaldo Carlos Batista and Raifran das Neves Sales. Both men worked for a livestock company. They asked her if she had any weapons. In response she showed them her Bible and began to read, “Blessed are the poor in spirit ….” 

The phrase “thoughts and prayers” has become so common it has its own Wikipedia page. The page outlines in detail the use of the expression by prominent public figures in times of crisis — most notably following natural disasters or American gun violence — and also offers both a criticism and defence of this practice. 

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