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THE YEAST OF FAITH
This content has first appeared in the Informative Bulletin of the Latin Paphos Parish, in April 2013, April 2015 and May 2016.
From the start, the faith in Christ has been the springboard and the motive for the Church’s works of love and charity.
Saint Luke the Evangelist writes in his book of “The Acts of the Apostles”: “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need” (Acts, 2, 44-45).
The practice of solidarity, which is inseparable from the life of the Church, has brought about an admirable transformation in human relations and in the societies which are historically rooted in Christianity; it has also touched the conscience of the whole world and it is seen as something not only desirable, but, as a moral obligation as well.
In the course of centuries humanity, slowly but steadily, adopted the Christian values of disinterested love of neighbour and the respect of the human person.
In the past,on the political level, Christian kings and princes often encouraged those values, however imperfectly. Nowadays we largely rely on the United Nations Organisation to promote them world-wide and to the respective constitutions of the different countries.
It is often passed under silence the fact that the Human Rights we defend so fiercely in our modern world owe their very existence to an inspiration that is substantially Christian in its conception and view of the dignity of the human person.
The yeast of Christian faith is working, sometimes imperceptibly but continuously, in every human field and activity. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8, 31).
THE COMMON GOOD
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the common good as the “sum of the social conditions which allow and facilitate the complete fulfillment of people, whether individually or in groups”.
Three elements are needed for the common good:
1) Respect of the fundamental and inalienable rights of the human person
2) Social well-being and development, and
3) Stability and assurance of a just order.
The common good is mainly attained through a variety of social institutions–the family, religious communities, financial enterprises, labour unions and service organisations.
A significant role for realizing the common good is played by the government. It is a moral obligation for all Christians to contribute to the common good, without, however, forgetting that their real city is not upon this earth.
SIMPLICITY AND DEPTH
The nature of the Church is not political, but essentially spiritual. It is the people of God, the holy people of God who are marching towards meeting Jesus Christ. Only within this perspective may one understand what the Catholic Church does.
Christ is the Church’s Shepherd, but His presence in the history of the Church passes through man’s freedom. Among the people of God a man is chosen to serve as His Vicar, as the successor of Peter. The centre is Christ, it is not the successor of Peter. Without Him neither Peter nor the Church would exist, nor would they have any reason to exist.
Pope Francis, Rome 16/3/2013
The Roman Pontiff, as the successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity of both the bishops and of the faithful.
Lumen Gentium, 23
The Church’s deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God (kerygma-martyria = preaching-witness), celebrating the holy sacraments (leitourgia = liturgy), and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia = service).
These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable. For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being. (Encyclical “God is Love”, §25).
If all the above seem rather academic, it is up to us to make them real, to render them concrete and tangible, for we all are the Church.
What witness do we give in our families, schools, offices and workplace?
How do we experience the life of the Church, i.e. how do we spend our Sundays and our great religious feasts? What place do the Sacraments hold in our daily strife for a better future?
And, finally, how do we relate to our fellow men and women in our immediate environment and to those further away?
Here lie three fields wide open to our action and contribution for the building up of the Church and the salvation of humankind.
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