Professor John Milbank, an Anglican theologian, spoke recently at Notre Dame College, in Ireland. Milbank referred to Pope Benedict XVI encyclical in general, and specifically about Catholic social teachings. Whenever we speak about Catholic Social teachings, most catholics have no idea what we are talking about. These truly are the best kept secrets in the whole entire Church. Anyway Benedict had written quite eloquently on the whole idea of charity.
This is to be sure a very radical way of seeing Justice and Peace. It neither depends on the government to wholly respond to brokenness in our culture, nor the individual alone. Benedict would affirm the value and the dignity of the individual man and woman. As communities, with peoples uses all of the resources available, we are challenged to afford one another with a quality and dignity of life.
Charity begins at the home. We teach our children to take care of one another, as well as their surroundings. We are responsible for the people and the things that are placed in our midst. By the time we reach adulthood we hopefully have an understanding that we need to have an awareness and care about the ecology, political and cultural matters, economic concerns, and poverty in the world. Charity, and of course catholic social teachings, remind us that social justice does not end at our front door.
Remember several weeks ago we read about the feeding of the five thousand. When the apostles present the problem to Jesus, his first, and best, response is, "give them something to eat yourselves." In faith how do we respond to the various afflictions, hungers, and sinfulness that we find around ourselves.
As we watch our economy we are even more aware of our interdependence and fragility as a people. St. Paul uses that wonderful image of members of a body. When one member hurt we all hurt. It might sound cliche, but we are indeed members of one whole family.
There is that ancient yet relevant hymn, "They will know we are Christians by their love." Maybe this should be our theme song emblazoned on our chest.