Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: To remain whole, to be together with others, we must be grounded in the Creator of all things.

March 15 2010

Caritas in Veritate

Monday of 4th Week of Lent

If you look carefully at the reading from the wonderful final chapters of Isaiah today, you can be struck by the parallel to the Holy Father’s encyclical. What we see in Isaiah is a vision of a human economy developed to its full potential by the action of God’s spirit: no infant mortality, no hunger-induced pain and weeping, long life and prosperity in body, mind and spirit. Jesus made that pie-in-sky vision real through his healing of the official’s son.

The Holy Father reminds us in the penultimate chapter of the letter that there are many kinds of poverty–of body, soul and spirit. Poverty results from isolation. God himself said that it is not good for humans to be alone. The abandoned one is poor in all these ways because of not being loved or being unable to love. Even those who are materially rich, if they reject God’s love and close in on themselves, are poor in the worst ways, the ways of mind and spirit. Such people either think themselves to be self-sufficient, or to consider the vastness of the universe and the impersonal forces that act on us, and think themselves to be insignificant and meaningless atoms in that impersonal and hostile cosmos. We must, to remain whole, know ourselves to be with another, to be grounded in the Creator of all things.

When I watch my students after school, they appear to be more wired into reality than any before them. They IM and Twitter and Text Message incessantly. But many of them cannot hold a rational conversation, either with each other or an adult, on anything more substantial than the latest gossip or TV show. They are deprived of the recognition “that the human race is a single family working together in true communion, not simply a group of subjects who happen to live side by side.” [53] The pope, echoing Paul VI, says that “a new trajectory of thinking is needed in order to arrive at a better understanding of the implications of our being one family; interaction among the peoples of the world calls us to embark upon this new trajectory, so that integration can signify solidarity[129] rather than marginalization. Thinking of this kind requires a deeper critical evaluation of the category of relation. This is a task that cannot be undertaken by the social sciences alone, insofar as the contribution of disciplines such as metaphysics and theology is needed if man's transcendent dignity is to be properly understood.” That dignity is both personal and corporate. “It is not by isolation that man establishes his worth, but by placing himself in relation with others and with God.” As we approach Holy Week and the Easter Vigil, we see how the Church models this recognition and creation of both personal and communitarian oneness: “Just as a family does not submerge the identities of its individual members, just as the Church rejoices in each “new creation” (Gal 6:15; 2 Cor 5:17) incorporated by Baptism into her living Body, so too the unity of the human family does not submerge the identities of individuals, peoples and cultures, but makes them more transparent to each other and links them more closely in their legitimate diversity.”

Our calling is to model the Blessed Trinity, one in being, with total reciprocal transparency among the divine Persons, in a perfect bond of unity. God wants to bring us into this reality of communion, so that we are one as Jesus and the Father and the Spirit are one. It is a true unity that does not mean the loss of individual identity but, as theology teaches, “profound interpenetration.” We become one Body through the operation of the one Spirit. And today we celebrate that reality as we come together at communion. We are drawn to communicate with the very Son of God, and so are brought together in His Body and Blood.

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