Bono addressed the National Prayer Breakfast last week, showing up politicians as only a global rock star can do. Here’s one of my favorite passages from his speech:
Look, whatever thoughts you have about God, who He is or if He
exists, most will agree that if there is a God, He has a special place
for the poor. In fact, the poor are where God lives.
Check Judaism. Check Islam. Check pretty much anyone.
mean, God may well be with us in our mansions on the hill… I hope so.
He may well be with us as in all manner of controversial stuff… maybe,
maybe not… But the one thing we can all agree, all faiths and
ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor.
is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house… God
is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus
that will end both their lives… God is in the cries heard under the
rubble of war… God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives,
and God is with us if we are with them. “If you remove the yolk from
your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, and if
you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the
afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom with
become like midday and the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy
your desire in scorched places”
It’s not a coincidence
that in the Scriptures, poverty is mentioned more than 2,100 times.
It’s not an accident. That’s a lot of air time, 2,100 mentions. [You
know, the only time Christ is judgmental is on the subject of the
poor.] ‘As you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you
have done it unto me.’ (Matthew 25:40). As I say, good news to the
It occurs to me that Bono believes with all of his heart, sould, mind, and strength that we have the ability to end the sort of poverty we see in places like Africa today. That seems so impossible that I can only describe it as the leap of faith. As he has said to a variety of audiences, “I’m a believer in grace, not karma.” And it’s only if you believe in a form of grace that you could have the audacity to think that we have the ability and the duty to end extreme poverty.
And it shows up these politicians each time they get near him. In the face of Bono’s simple pleas on behalf of those who can’t get to National Prayer Breakfasts, insincerity shows its falsity, power is afflicted, and humanity incarnate shines.
He really does believe all this. It’s much more belief than many of us can muster. It can seem simplistic, unreal, childish. And he takes a lot of flak for it. But as he says, “Grace makes beauty from ugly things.” For Bono, justice is the beautiful result of grace.