GeE 99: A Christian’s Unease

See the source imageWhen confronted with a person, not a thing, the believer should experience an inner concern:

99. For Christians, this involves a constant and healthy unease. Even if helping one person alone could justify all our efforts, it would not be enough.

How, then, do we address all the need, let alone the one person before us? We realize that human need is a feature of our existence.

The bishops of Canada made this clear when they noted, for example, that the biblical understanding of the jubilee year was about more than simply performing certain good works. It also meant seeking social change: “For later generations to also be released, clearly the goal had to be the restoration of just social and economic systems, so there could no longer be exclusion”. [Social Affairs Commission Of The Canadian Conference Of Catholic Bishops, Open Letter to the Members of Parliament, The Common Good or Exclusion: A Choice for Canadians (1 February 2001), 9]

This comment from Canada’s bishops yet again offers a vital distinction between charity and justice. The former treats with the personal–with concrete situations of the person we encounter. One hungry person can be given a meal. If we are a bit more farsighted, we can help the person address the root solution to their personal situation, be it illness, education, addiction, bureaucracy, etc.. If hundreds of people in our area are hungry, then we can build a better effectiveness to address the situation politically.

You can check the full document Gaudete et Exsultate on the Vatican website.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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