Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hearing the cry of the poor

In a Peace Weekly column a priest explains that the Church acts most like a Church when it works to motivate society to create more humane living conditions for all. To do this, he says the Church has to identify both with Christ and with society, sharing not only what is superfluous to the Church's needs  but what is necessary.

"Thus, part of the teaching and most ancient practice of the Church is her conviction that she is obliged by her vocation--she herself, her ministers and each of her members--to relieve the misery of the suffering, both far and near, not only out of her abundance but also out of her necessities. Faced by cases of need, one cannot ignore them in favor of superfluous church ornaments and costly furnishings for divine worship; on the contrary it could be obligatory to sell these goods in order to provide food, drink, clothing and shelter for those who lack these things. As has been already noted, here we are shown a hierarchy of values--in the framework of the right to property--between 'having' and 'being,' especially when the 'having' of a few can be to the detriment of the 'being of many others" (#31, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis).

The Church is the sign of the reign of Christ, and many think that it  is only a relationship with Christ in the Eucharist, in the liturgy. The Church is God's tool, and we don't limit the work of the Church to the liturgical.

From the very earliest catechism classes, we learned that the Church, and we as followers of Jesus, have three assignments: to share, to relate and to serve. The terminology of the Scriptures would be kingship, priesthood and prophet.

When we give, we receive, the columnist wants us to understand. Giving without receiving is sentimentalism and romanticism. We receive more than we give. When we give without any return, this is foolishness. He compares it to pouring water into a bottomless crock: not only foolish but a waste.

Those who do not give do not receive; we are not, he says, only speaking of material things. When we do not give, "the 'having' of a few--going back to the words of the encyclical--"can be to the detriment of the 'being' of many others."

The Church, he concludes, must remember to hear the cry of the poor. "
He that stoppeth his ear against the cry of the poor, shall also cry himself and shall not be heard."( Proverbs 21:13)

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