March 14, 2018
As we journey through the Lenten season, we often hear about Jesus being questioned about which law is the greatest. His response: "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind" and "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." This commandment stresses charity. In the book of Matthew, Jesus talks about when nations receive the final judgment. "For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you visited me." Jesus adds "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, that you did for me." The Corporal Works of Mercy are derived from these Gospel passages.
A challenge for teachers, parents and guardians is to help children see these words as a way of life and to understand what is meant by the cardinal virtue of justice. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the cardinal virtue of justice is a "moral virtue that consists in the firm will to give their due to God and neighbor." Those who practice justice are "distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of conduct toward his neighbor." As the adults, we are challenged and called to be role models, to be like the disciples of Jesus who, through their acts, deeds and words, gave witness to what is to be a kind person, a loving person, a giving person.
Modern day disciples of Jesus such as Pope Francis, Dorothy Day, members of the Catholic Worker House, Catholic Charities, St. Francis Center and the St. Vincent de Paul Society are examples to young people and, in some instances, avenues to help engage young people to serve the poor and to remember the disenfranchised, the lonely and the forgotten.
As Christians we must embrace our responsibility to serve others. Small steps, serving and selfless giving help us journey closer to being a disciple of Jesus and living out, "Love your neighbor as yourself." I challenge you to look for ways, as we near the end of Lent and enter into Holy Week, to help your children reach out to others in our community. I thank all the families who have participated in the "Water Bottle" project for Tanzania and encourage those who have not to participate,. It is one small way children can give and comprehend the possibilities when all are working towards a common goal.