Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Archbishop Harry Flynn, retired archbishop of the St. Paul and Minneapolis diocese, is giving a mission in my parish. Although I missed the taco dinner beforehand, I was able to make it for the evening program last night. The focus of the Archbishop's remarks was on the Eucharist and its relation to social justice.
He emphasized that Catholics do not have the option of viewing social ministry as something reserved for a few, as a parish sideline. Rather, it must be integrated into all of our lives and a central part of our lives as a parish community. He emphasized that this is not some new teaching of modern theologians, but is rooted in Scripture, particularly in the human life of Jesus. He reminded us that in Luke, the beginning of Jesus ministry is his action in the temple at Nazareth. Jesus stands up and quotes Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, becuse he has anointed me to being glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord." He then tells the people that the scripture passage is today fulfilled in their hearing.
Flynn emphasized that social ministry means both charity and justice. Direct service to those in need is important, but we must also work to create a more just society. As Christians we can't just sit back, and we can't just write a check. We must be an active part of transforming the world into Kingdom by working to change the structures that allow the diminution of the human dignity of our brothers and sisters.
It was a powerful talk and a needed one, since I think too many people either don't understand the centrality of social justice to our lives as Christians or forget that social justice has two legs - justice as well as charity.
In a post on my own blog this morning, I focus on Flynn's remarks about the Eucharist transforming us into Christ. You can find that post here.