Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Mt 5:16)
The life of a joyful missionary disciple is one that radiates the light of Christ into the world. As disciples of Christ, everything that we do should reflect the love that Jesus has poured into our hearts. Our awareness of this unending love compels us to share it with all people.
One very tangible way we can help share that light is through evangelical charity, those acts of service which tend to the spiritual or physical needs of others. Catholics around the world and in our local Church have fostered a remarkable network of charitable programs for health care, disaster relief, hunger alleviation, poverty reduction, refugee aid, family services, counseling and help for people in every form of need. In this way, our Church might be considered a social service agency. However, we stand apart from such agencies because our charitable acts are also authentic expressions of the Catholic faith, manifesting God’s love to those to whom we serve.
How do we infuse our faith into our charitable works?
As with many things in the life of a disciple, we must begin with discernment. We consider what opportunities God has put in our path — whether they be formal community service activities or smaller acts of charity in our daily lives. Next, we turn to prayer, acknowledging that the love we share through service — our charity — comes from the very heart and soul of Jesus Christ. We can pray alone or with others — those we serve and those who serve alongside us.
These prayers help us ensure that in ministering to the material needs of others we are also responding to their spiritual thirst for God. Last, we take the opportunity to make a clear witness, to share our testimony with others, so that they know our actions come from Christ through us.
Through discernment, prayer and witness, we become vessels of Christ’s light and love poured out into our communities in Southeast Michigan. I am grateful to God for those in our midst who are already committed to advancing the kingdom through their works of mercy. And in the spirit of Blessed Solanus Casey, who dedicated his life to works of evangelical charity, I thank God ahead of time for those who will hear and listen to the Lord’s call to service in the days, months and years to come.