Thursday, July 28, 2011

Catholic Social Justice - Dignity of the Human Person

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27

One of the best-kept secrets of the Catholic Church is its Social Justice Teaching.  While the Church has been active in social justice concerns for over 100 years, its members remain largely unaware of it teachings, policies, positions and actions.  We, as Catholics, have a strong legacy in protecting the rights and dignity of man, working for the common good of society, advocating the rights and responsibilities of life, making a preferential option for the poor, respecting the right and dignity of work, seeing the plight of our neighbors in the world as a concern for all of us and protecting God’s cherished gift of this world in which we live.

The Dignity of the Human Person
All people are sacred, made in the image and likeness of God.  No person is diminished in dignity because of race, origin, color, belief, gender, age, wealth, and success in life or physical ability.  We are all God’s children deserving not only of His love, but also of the love of each of us as brothers and sisters in Christ.  To act in any way or to cause others to act in a way that diminishes a person’s dignity is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ and of His Church.

We must go beyond treating people with respect and dignity; we must make sure all people are included in the decisions of our communal lives.  Each of us has worth and makes a valuable contribution to the good of the community.  Each of us has a voice in society that must be heard.  If we ignore or marginalize any person or group, we are the poorer for not experiencing their contribution for the good of all.
People who are not poor cannot really know what it is like to be poor, people who are not handicapped cannot really know what it is like to be handicapped, people who are not of a particular race cannot know what it like to be a person of that race.  It is not only in how we treat others, but also in the way we listen to others, participate with others and share with others a voice in our community that gives them dignity. 
As Catholic Christians we are called to be welcoming and inclusive to all the members of the community, in all the actions of our communal lives.  The good of all people should guide our decisions; decisions that have people at the center and not things, for it is people that we are called to love, not possessions.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What Would Jesus Cut?

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,


naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.'


Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?


When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?


When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'


And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.' - Mathew 25: 35-40

"A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential 
services to poor persons. It requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate 
revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the longterm costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly."

"We fear the human and social costs of substantial cuts to programs that serve families working to 
escape poverty, especially food and nutrition, child development and education, and affordable 
- Excerpts from the letter to the House of Representatives from the USCCB - dated 26 July 2011

This question is being asked by Christians today as we struggle to reconcile our nation's financial dilemma.

There are several parables that can be used to create a good outcome for the people of this nation. Two come to mind directly, the first is the parable of Lazarus and the rich man and the second, the parable of the Good Samaritan.

The Good Samaritan saw a fellow person suffering and came to his aid without asking questions. He saw the suffering and was moved to pity; caring for this person and ensuring that he was made whole again without counting the cost. He loved his fellow man as God loves each of us - completely.
Lazarus spent a life in misery in the shadow of wealth and privilege; feeding off the tables scrapes discarded and left by the dogs. At time of judgement, the rich man's life was examined for his deeds of love, compassion, generosity and care for the least and was found wanting.
These two parables, for me, show that we are called to respond in love to the needs of the least of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We are called to lift them up, restore their health, their dignity, their respect and their life.  We are to love them as we wish to be loved, as God loves each of us.

Jesus came to bring salvation to His people. Jesus healed the sick, made the lame walk, the blind see and raised the dead to life.  He didn't ask for payment or judge the social position of those in need.  He saw the suffering of God's children, a brother or sister in need and returned them to wholeness, to life.

What do you think Jesus would cut?

Deacon Don Ron

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Making gods of ourselves

Psalm 10

Why, O LORD, do You stand far off?
Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?

2In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. 
3He boasts of the cravings of his heart;
he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD. 
4In his pride the wicked does not seek Him;
in all his thoughts there is no room for God. 
5His ways are always prosperous;
he is haughty and Your laws are far from him;
he sneers at all his enemies. 
6He says to himself, "Nothing will shake me;
I'll always be happy and never have trouble." 
7His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats;
trouble and evil are under his tongue. 
8He lies in wait near the villages;
from ambush he murders the innocent,
watching in secret for his victims. 
9He lies in wait like a lion in cover;
he lies in wait to catch the helpless;
he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.

10His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength. 
11He says to himself, "God has forgotten;
He covers His face and never sees." 

If we forget that all we have comes from God, believing our successes are of our own making, we make gods of ourselves. In our pursuit of success we can easily lose sight of our Lord's command to Love God above all and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
If we love with the love He has for each of us, brothers and sisters in Christ, we will live in peace with all creation: Caring for the poor, the sick, the voiceless, the least of His children, sharing God's gift of this world with all, so none may suffer or go without.  He calls us to be good stewards of the world, so future generations may live in peace and share God's bounty.

Deacon Don Ron