Daniel G. Groody is a Holy Cross priest and Assistant Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame where he directs the Center for Latino Spirituality and Culture. He is the author of Border of Death, Valley of Life: An Immigrant Journey of Heart and Spirit. His new book is an incisive theological work in which he demonstrates how the themes of poverty, inequality, justice, and liberation can be assessed through a number of lenses: biblical insights, the homilies and writings of the early church fathers, Catholic social teachings, the major world religions, contemporary theological reflection, liturgical worship, and the spiritual journey of those who see contemplation and action as being of one piece.
In the opening section, "A Gift of God, A Human Responsibility," Groody lays out the incredible disparity between the world's haves and the have-nots:
"In our global village of 100 people, the resources are unevenly distributed. The richest person in the village has as much as the poorest 57 taken together. Fifty do not have a reliable source of food and are hungry some of the time, and 30 suffer malnutrition. Forty do not have access to adequate sanitation; 31 people live in substandard housing; 31 do not have electricity; 18 are unable to read; 15 do not have access to safe drinking water. Only 16 people have access to the Internet. Only 12 own an automobile. Three are migrating. And only two have a college education. Overall, 19 struggle to survive on one dollar per day or less; 48 struggle to live on two dollars a day or less. In brief, as the World Bank describes it, two thirds of the planet lives in poverty."
The author discusses the problem of "money-theism" and the pursuit of wealth and greed that demeans all. He offers in contrast the Christian discipleship of making visible the invisible heart of God. He does a remarkably good job summarizing the biblical theme of justice; the early church's challenge to the idolatry of wealth; Catholic social teachings on the common good, the dignity of the human person, the option for the poor, life as a sacred gift, and the family of humankind; the world's religions on a common humanity; and a liberating contemporary theology.
One of the best chapters contains a look at five icons of justice for the human family: Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa, and Oscar Romero. They challenge us to spiritually grow in nonviolence, work for human rights, be merciful, and seek the liberation of all. The last two sections are on the deep relationship between liberation and liturgy and deepening our spiritual relationships with God, others, the environment, and ourselves.