Summary: The vocation to human development comes from God, but prophetically also comes from those who are least developed; we must respond by sharing Christ with them or they are not fully developed.

Feast of St. Matthew

Sept 21, 2009

Caritas in Veritate

The call of St. Matthew is, in a sense, the call of every Christian. We have looked upon human development as a call to grow the entire human person, and the entire human family, toward its full meaning. This is an integrated development of body, soul, spirit and society. St. Paul is alluding to this call when he talks about the various vocational ministries in the Church working together to build up the body of Christ. Such a vocation “requires a free and responsible answer,” as the Holy Father says. “Integral human development presupposes the responsible freedom of the individual and of peoples: no structure can guarantee this development over and above human responsibility. The’“types of messianism which give promises but create illusions’[38] always build their case on a denial of the transcendent dimension of development, in the conviction that it lies entirely at their disposal. This false security becomes a weakness, because it involves reducing man to subservience, to a mere means for development, while the humility of those who accept a vocation is transformed into true autonomy, because it sets them free.”

Despite the many obstacles to human development, every person remains the principal agent “of his own success or failure.” There is a constant dialogue here. The underdeveloped peoples of the world make a dramatic appeal “to the peoples blessed with abundance,” in the words of Paul VI. This is, as Benedict teaches, a true vocation, “a call addressed by free subjects to other free subjects,” a call that assumes we all have a shared responsibility for human development. But besides “requiring freedom, integral human development” also demands respect for its truth as a vocation. The drive to “be more” must be carefully circumscribed. “Amid the various competing anthropological visions put forward in today’s society, even more so than in Paul VI’s time, the Christian vision has the particular characteristic of asserting and justifying the unconditional value of the human person and the meaning of his growth. The Christian vocation to development helps to promote the advancement of all men and of the whole man.” Here we have it again–the Gospel of Christ is necessary to true human development, because until a man is in Christ, he remains short of his authentic human development.

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