Pope Benedict XVI almost seems to be addressing our post modern culture when he speaks about the necessity of solidarity with the poor and the suffering. Our cultural response to those who are in need is to place them in a program, and give money to the enterprise. The Church would ask that we change our relationships with those around us so that those who are poor, widowed, orphaned, addicted, unemployed, or homeless, would find support and encouragement on the local level. The Church's teachings on social justice talk about addressing the root causes of the evil and brokenness that afflicts our society.
The notion of community is difficult for us. We easily put a dollar or two in a jar for hungry children, but we do not want to think about them beyond that. Each year at Lent we do the Rice Bowl, via CRS, as part of our Lenten alms giving. Hopefully the parishioners are actually being aware that that are emptying pocket-change for those in Sudan, or Southeast Asia. Or as they are eating soup and crackers for a 'fast-meal,' they pray for and make mention of the poor and the suffering. Our social justice teachings challenge us to share and to be made aware of the needs and concerns of others.
That awareness and understanding effects our attitudes and even our use of time and money. More so the Eucharistic celebration becomes a reflection of the Bread of Life, and our participation in the Paschal Mystery.
There are today many needy people who require what a government program cannot give - compassion, dignity, and respect for all life. Our Catholic faith needs to fill the gap that these folks so often fall through. We stand together with our brothers and sisters in the name of Jesus Christ. Our Catholic faith is prophetic, and must be a beacon of hope shining in the darkness.