Jon Sobrino is a Jesuit theologian from El Salvador and author of the award-winning two-volume work Jesus the Liberator and Christ the Liberator. In this sobering and prophetic theological volume, he takes a hard look at the suffering and violence afoot in the world through an examination of an earthquake in El Salvador, the terrorist attacks of September 11, and the bombing of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Although the first question that springs out of the mouths of those troubled by such massive injustice and barbarity is "Where is God?", Sobrino takes a far more daring approach by discussing human cruelty, indifference, and inequality. The parable that best illustrates the tenor of the times is the one about the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). Those in the affluent West think the planet belongs to them, while the rest of the human family the poor, victimized majorities have no other choice than to wait for leftovers, the crumbs that fall from the table of the haves. This inequality is bad in normal circumstances but it becomes unconscionable when thousands die in earthquakes and tsunamis, in attacks on civilians, and in civil wars where no one cares about the senseless slaughter of men, women, and children.
According to the experts in such matters, two billion human beings have no place to live with a minimum of dignity and safety. Sobrino quotes Gustavo Gutierrez, another liberation theologian, who shakes us up with the dreaded question: "Where will the poor sleep in the twenty-first century?" The poor are being displaced by war, natural disasters, and failing economies. When we turn away from them, we are not mirroring the loving actions of Jesus, who spent most of his time and ministry with the poor (the sick, sinners and tax collectors, the dispossessed, and women).
Sobrino has some harsh things to say about the American empire and those who are terrorized by anti-human structures. He sees signs of hope in the efforts of those who truly care for the poor and are trying to bring about the structural changes that will give them a better life. He sees the most uplifting signs of hope in what he calls "the immense reserve of primordial saintliness that exists in the Third World." You can see what he means by reading the excerpt from this important paperback.