Too often, our modern society sees God as the subject of a comfortable religion, a religion that is kept within the walls of an institution which is considered a relic when it is held up against the prominent and towering images of modern day Google, Facebook, and the social media that grabs our attention and time more often than the God of the scriptures.
In one sense we are irrelevant! We are irrelevant if today’s society measures success and importance by wealth, fame, and social status. The Church is not that at all! It is not for the elite. Rather, It is for the sinner called to holiness – in need of a Savior. Within this Church we hear the prophet speak, “The Lord is a God of justice, who knows no favorites” (Sirach 35:15).
God does not favor us on our own accomplishments. He is, as the prophet speaks, one who is not deaf to the wail of the orphan or to the widow when she pours out her complaint. We are measured only by whom God made us, to be his very image and likeness (cf. Genesis 1:27). We are precious to him who “came to bring integral salvation, one which embraces the whole person and all mankind and opens up the wondrous prospect of divine filiation” (John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Missio, 11).
We realize that we are more than just a creature, we are sons and daughters of God who, in Baptism, are invited by God to serve each other – making us authentically human.
Some of the most important teachings of the faith are found in the Catholic Social Doctrine. If we understand this, we understand what it means to serve others, to be authentically human, and to love with the heart of God who hears the cry of the poor (cf. Psalm 35). The foundation of all principles in Catholic Social Doctrine is working toward the common good, subsidiarity, and solidarity. These principles speak about the truth of who we truly are as human beings. These principles are interrelated and stand as one unity. Allow me to give a brief explanation on each foundation and speak of its practical use in our society today.
As sons and daughters of God, we promote the common good because every person has the right to share in the basic resources of the earth and to obtain basic material needs. Working toward the common good allows people to reach their fullest meaning and sense of dignity. Does everyone have access to a job that gives them a decent wage to support their family?
Secondly, we believe in subsidiarity in which larger communities care and provide for smaller communities. For example, we believe that the government should be able to provide the necessary means by which a family may educate their children in the home.
Finally, we believe in solidarity in which we recognize the dignity of each person as male and female and we work toward a common path to care for everyone as our neighbor. We all share an interdependence on each other regardless if we are affiliated with a first world country or third world country.
Simply put. As the Church, we are not individuals doing our own thing! We are one body in Christ (cf. Romans 12:5). Teresa of Jesus said that Christ has no eyes but ours, no ears but ours, no heart but ours to serve and love his people. It is through us that God hears the cry of the poor and it is through us in which God responds to that cry. This is the irrelevance of the Church in a secular modern society. The Church goes against the popular strides of success and fame because we are a body that supports each other.
In our baptism, we were called to be a family and to care for each other so that no one goes hungry, no one goes unloved. We now turn to the altar where every spiritual hunger is satisfied, where love is found. We turn to the altar where we find the strength to care for each other and serve each other with the values that shape our faith. If we dare to do anything else, we remain like the Pharisee who consider himself righteous rather than the tax collector who begged for God’s mercy.