We finish up Chapter V extending a discussion on charity. Jesus’ ministry with and for the poor threads through the Gospels. The opening of the Sermon on the Mount is cited, but just as easily, Pope John Paul II could have based his reflection on Jesus in the synagogue (Luke 4:16ff), or the image of the sheep and goats at the end of time (Matthew 25:32ff). We are challenged to an examen here:
In fidelity to the spirit of the Beatitudes, the Church is called to be on the side of those who are poor and oppressed in any way. I therefore exhort the disciples of Christ and all Christian communities – from families to dioceses, from parishes to religious institutes – to carry out a sincere review of their lives regarding their solidarity with the poor.
A rather Ignatian method, don’t you think? How would such a review be conducted? Budget priorities, parish staffing, the use of leisure time, of one’s monetary donations, even the day-to-day operation of either household or faith community. On the last one, do we intersect with the needy? Do we engage in avoidance, distance with gifts of material resources to the exclusion of making friendships? Without the witness of believers, of what use are money and goods? Any secular charity does as much.
Many Christians, and even non-believers do the personal accompaniment:
At the same time, I express gratitude to the missionaries who, by their loving presence and humble service to people, are working for the integral development of individuals and of society through schools, health-care centers, leprosaria, homes for the handicapped and the elderly, projects for the promotion of women and other similar apostolates. I thank the priests, religious brothers and sisters, and members of the laity for their dedication, and I also encourage the volunteers from non-governmental organizations who in ever increasing numbers are devoting themselves to works of charity and human promotion.
We finish up this theme with a quote from a 12th century Cistercian:
It is in fact these “works of charity” that reveal the soul of all missionary activity: love, which has been and remains the driving force of mission, and is also “the sole criterion for judging what is to be done or not done, changed or not changed. It is the principle which must direct every action, and end to which that action must be directed. When we act with a view to charity, or are inspired by charity, nothing is unseemly and everything is good.”(Isaac of Stella, Sermon 31, PL 194, 1793)
This is a good note on which to complete our look at the “Mission Ad Gentes” (mission to the peoples). From here, we’ll move on to the various ministries in the mission apostolate, and how they relate to one another. Probably another two months’ worth, so plenty of time to comment.
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