Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Charity in truth is not something we summon up from ourselves; it is a divine gift essential for true human development

Monday of 18th Week in Course

Caritas in Veritate

The occasion for Jesus’ withdrawal to a “lonely place” was the news that John the Baptist, his relative and mentor, had been murdered by Herod. Jesus was no coward, so we should think that this withdrawal was to achieve some time for His humanity to come into a more intense understanding of God’s plan, and, more importantly, even more willingness to follow that plan. In other words, He was moving closer toward charity in truth. He proves this by feeding the multitude, even as he intensified His teaching of the truth.

Truth is one. When we grasp the truth, we “let go of our subjective opinions and impressions,” we get beyond the limitations of culture and history and “come together in the assessment of the [true] value and substance of love.” Today there is a “widespread tendency to relativize truth,” especially moral truth. When we practice charity in truth, we are helping the people we meet to understand “that adhering to the values of Christianity is not merely useful but essential for building a good society,” one in which humans can develop. Charity without truth is–if I may be blunt–a kind of Hollywood do-goodism, in which one can pay $10,000 to attend a charity banquet for the children of Africa on Sunday, and testify before Congress on the importance of experimenting with preborn babies on Tuesday.

Charity, the Holy Father continues, is “love received and given. It is ‘grace’ or ‘charis’” in the Greek. “Its source is the wellspring of the Father’s love for the Son, in the Holy Spirit.” We can never forget that the name of the Holy Spirit is love. Love has divine origin. Love comes to us from the core being of the Trinity through the gift of the Son. It is creative, redemptive love. It is, then, not something we summon up, but someone we receive. As the objects of God’s love, we become subjects of charity and are called to make ourselves instruments of grace, so we can pour forth God’s love and weave what the Pope calls “networks of charity.” This dynamic gives rise to the critical social teaching of the Church, the doctrine which proclaims the truth of Christ’s love in the nitty-gritty daily live of society. The doctrine is a “service to charity, but its locus is truth.” If society is to be liberated, it is the truth that will preserve and express the power of charity to liberate. True development can only occur in this atmosphere of charity in truth.

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