"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me...just as you did it to the least of these who are members of my family, you did it for me" (Mt 25:35-36,40).
When I watched the horrific television footage of the people in Central America after hurricane Mitch destroyed their lives, I wondered how anyone could not be profoundly moved as they watched their brothers and sisters in the Lord struggling to survive. Unfortunately, I discovered several people who felt that it wasn't their responsibility to neither reach out in prayer nor to offer practical help. Even though these same people will walk into a church this Sunday proudly and loudly proclaiming that Jesus is their Lord. I honestly wonder what Jesus they are worshiping.
During the second Vatican Council it was stated that it is a serious error to separate religious faith from the affairs of the world. The U.S. Catholic Bishops in 1993 stated that "We cannot be called truly 'Catholic' unless we hear and heed the Church's call to those in need and work for justice and peace".
During this time of the year most of us will be lavished with gifts and stuff our faces with every imaginable kind of food and drink; while millions of people in this country and throughout the world will be praying that their gift this holiday season will be a crust of bread, "clean" drinking water and maybe some new cardboard boxes to rebuild their homes that were ruined by the most recent rains and floods.
Apathy is defined as a lack of interest or indifference towards someone or a situation. It is much easier not to care when we see people we don't personally know as strangers rather than as our brothers and sisters. Catholic social teaching insists that we are one family. It calls us to overcome barriers of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, economic status and nationality. We are one in Christ Jesus, beyond our differences and boundaries.
One of the gravest mistakes of our times is the difference between the faith of many who profess Jesus as their Lord and their day-to-day conduct towards those who are truly in need of the basic necessities of life. When we see someone who is hungry, thirsty, cold or homeless and we simply and only say, "I will pray for you.", in other words, "I've got mine. I hope you get yours.", but refuse to offer practical help, that apathy towards their plight I believe is radical evil.
So many people have been sucked into the materialism, consumerism and individualism of our society. These "ism's" promote selfishness, ignoring of the poor and weak and a disregard for human life.
During the Holy seasons of the year I invite all of us to evaluate how we carry the Good News through our practical works of justice, charity and peace. As you reach out to help those less fortunate, don't do it because you think you will feel better or because it is an obligation. Extend the love and mercy of Jesus in order to promote the dignity and destiny of every person created by God. After all, as a disciple of Jesus , we are called to do nothing less.
Glenn HarmonŠ 2002