The global pandemic has claimed millions of human lives. In addition, it has revealed clearly flaws in our society that need a closer look and remedial attention so we can build a better home for every member of the human family.
All of us can see an increase of human misery and suffering in just about every community. As Christians, we are called to respond with compassion. The Church has always recognized the dignity of every human person, and the individual rights that accompany that dignity.
The Church’s Social Doctrine also holds in balance the dignity and rights of the human person with the common good of every member of society.
As the pandemic wears down the patience and tolerance of the human family, it is good to recall some basic teachings about the common good, which I offer below:
The common good therefore involves all members of society, no one is exempt from cooperating, according to each one’s possibilities, in attaining it and developing it. The common good must be served in its fullness, not according to reductionist visions that are subordinated by certain people to their advantages; own rather it is to be based on a logic that leads to the assumption of greater responsibility. The common good corresponds to the highest of human instincts353, but it is a good that is very difficult to attain because it requires the constant ability and effort to seek the good of others as though it were one’s own good. (no. 167)
The common good of society is not an end in itself; it has value only in reference to attaining the ultimate ends of the person and the universal common good of the whole of creation. God is the ultimate end of his creatures and for no reason may the common good be deprived of its transcendent dimension, which moves beyond the historical dimension while at the same time fulfilling it. This perspective reaches its fullness by virtue of faith in Jesus’ Passover, which sheds clear light on the attainment of humanity’s true common good. Our history—the personal and collective effort to elevate the human condition—begins and ends in Jesus: thanks to him, by means of him and in light of him every reality, including human society, can be brought to its Supreme Good, to its fulfilment. A purely historical and materialistic vision would end up transforming the common good into a simple socio-economic well-being, without any transcendental goal, that is, without its most intimate reason for existing. (no. 170)
Catholic Church. (2014). Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
In today’s Gospel (Luke 13: 22-30) Jesus teaches: “For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
Some of the challenges we face as a human family today can be overwhelming. However, when we ‘come out of ourself’ to strengthen relationships with others, the fabric of the human family and society will mend.
All of creation is a ‘gift’ from our Creator, God. The natural order of creation and the ‘mystery of faith’ teach us that life is a gift, and ‘giving’ is at the core of our existence.
God brought life to Adam through the dust of the earth, and even the dust of the earth is given for a time by God. God gives us renewed life through the gift of His Son, Jesus. Jesus won our salvation by making a total gift of his life on the cross. And now, it is our honor to pass on these gifts of life and salvation to others.
Let us be willing to ‘be the last’ by making a gift of self, by placing the needs of others before our own.