May 8, 2010

Doing Good Vs. Being Good

The Catholic Church from the time of Christ onward has always concerned itself with the poor. Christ Himself was born poor, lived poor and died poor. His ministry seemed to single out the impoverished. Pope Gregory the Great invited indigents to dine at the papal table. But the question of social justice has proven to be a thornier issue in modern times. Mother Teresa’s efforts to support society’s outcasts were prodigious and uncontroversial, but even she was not without her critics. The likes of Dorothy Day, and more recently, liberation theologians who take a more activist approach to social justice questions have proven more controversial.

The idea of building the “City of God” here on earth, while noble, is something only God can truly accomplish. Loosing site of this, and the humility it brings, has caused the downfall of many a social justice movement. We should not make gods out of men. We should not make idols out of causes – no matter how well intentioned they may be.

Christ saved the world by his cross. We must never loose site of this fact. We are not saved by anything we do. We cannot save others regardless of what we do. God and God alone does all the saving.

Mother Teresa was Christlike in her actions. How many social justice crusaders can say that about their efforts? How many of us can say that about our lives?

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