Meditation: Healing Society and Human Sanctity
Peligrino FAITH Magazine November-December 2007
The Church teaches many things about the way in which society should work: about the laws we make, about how we treat one another and respect each other’s rights, about behaving justly with our money, about the value of human life and the duties we owe to the communities in which we live. The Church is concerned for the future of humanity, about the way we care for our planet and use its resources. The Church encourages us all to contribute in positive ways to authentic human progress, so that poverty, hunger and disease can be brought to an end.
But the Church also warns us that we must only tackle these issues in ways that accord with human dignity and the principles of truth and goodness that God built into our human nature. We can never do something that is inherently evil in order to achieve a good aim. If we do that, we only undermine our own dignity and create many more evils and distortions in our world. The only way to build peace and justice in our world - a world where goodness is at home and real love flourishes - is for all of us to live as faithfully as we can through the grace of Jesus Christ.
It is those who live in a saintly manner who do the most to change this world for the better. Saints are selfless and generous. Saints live for others. Saints listen to God’s Word and put it into action in their own lives. Saints denounce evil, but they are also willing to pay the price of putting it right. Saints sacrifice themselves - their time, energy, their own hopes, dreams and ambitions - in order to put love into situations where there was none before. Imagine what a different place the world would be if it were full of saints.
There are many practical projects - local, national, global - in which we can get involved to try to make the world more like Jesus wants it to be. But we must begin by letting Jesus make our own hearts more like he wants them to be. The most essential ingredient in any project is personal holiness. Does this mean that we have to wait until we have become saints before we do anything? Of course not, God accepts the efforts of sinners, however inadequate they may be to begin with, and he can work with generous spirits, whatever their personal history.
It is true that we cannot love God unless we also love our neighbour. It is also true that we cannot properly love our neighbour unless we love God first. So the more we gaze into the heart of Christ, the more we will see the world through his eyes. We will see there the authentic vision of justice and peace that we must try to bring about in our daily lives. We will find there the wisdom to know how to put that vision into action. We will also receive from the heart of Jesus the patience and strength we need to get the job done, as well as the humility to accept our own limits and the honesty to admit our own faults and failures.
St. Jean Vianney, the Cure’ of Ars, used to say to his parishioners: “Some of us may have made a bad start, but let’s all try to make a good end”. That could apply to us today, not just as individuals, but as the whole human family, which is meant to be the family of God.