THE EXERCISE OF CHARITY – Jan 2009

THE EXERCISE OF CHARITY IS THE ESSENCE OF CHRISTIAN LIFE – Reflection for January 2009.
The papers are full of gloomy economic news, not only here in Ireland, but throughout the world. We know from experience that when money is scarce, poor people, needy people, are the ones who carry the greatest share of the burden and that immigrants, many of whom are among the poorest, become the focus for the tensions caused by economic decline. With this awareness, we need to keep alert to whatever affects the needs of migrants in our country this year.

Pope Benedict XV1 has written a letter for the occasion of World Day for Migrants, which will be marked on the 18th of January. In it he calls our attention to St. Paul’s words of encouragement to nascent Christian communities, when he exhorted them to be like brothers and sisters to one another, because we are all brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ and children of the one Father.

If we are aware of this’ says Pope Benedict, ‘how can we fail to take charge of all those, particularly refugees and displaced people, who are in conditions of difficulty or hardship? How can we fail to meet the needs of those who are de facto the weakest and most defenceless, marked by precariousness and insecurity, marginalized and often excluded by society? We should give our priority attention to them because, paraphrasing a well known Pauline text, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Cor 1:27).

Dear brothers and sisters, may the World Day for Migrants and Refugees… on January 18 be for all an incentive to live brotherly love to the full without making any kind of distinction and without discrimination, in the conviction that any one who needs us and whom we can help is our neighbour. May the teaching and example of St Paul, a great and humble Apostle and a migrant, an evangelizer of peoples and cultures, spur us to understand that the exercise of charity is the culmination and synthesis of the whole of Christian life.