Summary: We generate history, not by politics and war, but by service to the poor and helpless.

Thursday of the 30th Week in Course 2016

Joy of the Gospel

Every time we turn a page in the New Testament, we are–if we are sensitive–struck by how counter-intuitive the Christian message is. Consider St. Paul’s life. He was, by his own account, a super-Jew. He observed every commandment, even the weird dietary restrictions like no shellfish. As a Pharisee he was double observant. But meeting Christ on the Damascus highway changed everything. All that he formerly valued he then treated as rubbish–garbage. Knowing Christ was enough for a fulfilled life. Instead of valuing external things, he treasured internal growth. Instead of shunning sinners, like Christ he embraced them. Look at the first story Jesus tells today. Jesus would never succeed in business today. You lose a sheep, that’s a cost of doing business; jack up the price of the other ninety-nine. No, Jesus abandons the ninety-nine to search for the lost. Every human life is precious; every one is worth His passion and death. That’s how Jesus loves us; that’s how we must love each other. That’s how we build the kingdom of God.

The pope, continuing his treatment of social justice, tells us: ‘Reading the Scriptures . . . makes it clear that the Gospel is not merely about our personal relationship with God. Nor should our loving response to God be seen simply as an accumulation of small personal gestures to individuals in need, a kind of “charity à la carte”, or a series of acts aimed solely at easing our conscience. The Gospel is about the kingdom of God (cf. Lk 4:43); it is about loving God who reigns in our world. To the extent that he reigns within us, the life of society will be a setting for universal fraternity, justice, peace and dignity. Both Christian preaching and life, then, are meant to have an impact on society. We are seeking God’s kingdom: “Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Mt 6:33). Jesus’ mission is to inaugurate the kingdom of his Father; he commands his disciples to proclaim the good news that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 10:7).

‘The kingdom, already present and growing in our midst, engages us at every level of our being and reminds us of the principle of discernment which Pope Paul VI applied to true development: it must be directed to “all men and the whole man”.[145] We know that “evangelization would not be complete if it did not take account of the unceasing interplay of the Gospel and of man’s concrete life, both personal and social”.[146] This is the principle of universality intrinsic to the Gospel, for the Father desires the salvation of every man and woman, and his saving plan consists in “gathering up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph 1:10). Our mandate is to “go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15), for “the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God” (Rom 8:19). Here, “the creation” refers to every aspect of human life; consequently, “the mission of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ has a universal destination. Its mandate of charity encompasses all dimensions of existence, all individuals, all areas of community life, and all peoples. Nothing human can be alien to it”.[147] True Christian hope, which seeks the eschatological kingdom, always generates history.’

Think of the past–even the recent past. In the years after the horrendous Roe v Wade decision, it was Catholics who pretty much alone fought for human life. And nearly fifty years later, we are still at the forefront of the movement. One generation of pro-life soldiers has passed on, and a new generation is stepping up. We will never give this one up. But look at our care for the aged and sick. The Church was taking the lead in the twelfth century, and continues to do so today. We generate history, not by politics and war, but by service to the poor and helpless. And by our constant prayers for the coming of the kingdom, which in a moment we will continue. Never give up that fight.

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