In the protestant tradition, the person reading in church gives the citation of the scripture. It would have been useful in church this weekend, as we read a gospel made up of two patches of the same quilt, sewn together: Luke 1:1-4 and 4:14-21. The first part is the introduction of Luke’s gospel, the one we are going to be reading from in this cycle C year. Then we skipped the annunciation and birth of John the Baptist and Jesus, as well as the Baptism of the Lord—we just celebrated that feast two weeks ago—so the gospel today has jumped to the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus.
In the synagogue and on the Sabbath, Jesus is given the scroll of Isaiah. But within Isaiah, Jesus can choose what to read and preach about. What he chooses to read from Isaiah is what today we would call his mission statement. It is really Jesus’ inaugural speech. Jesus tells the synagogue, for this I came.
Anointed by God at Baptism, Jesus states that he came to “bring glad tidings to the poor… to proclaim liberty to captives… recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year (a time, an era) acceptable to the Lord.” Now, how many times and in how many different ways can we preach in church that we cannot live our faith without embracing its social implications; that following Jesus is not just a matter of belief, but also of the actions that believing in Him inspires us to undertake?
At Sacred Heart we decided to offer a three-weekend series on the ultimate fruit of these words that mark the inauguration of Jesus’ ministry. From there and through the centuries, the Church has developed a solid body of thought we call the Catholic Social Teaching of the Catholic Church (CST.) While the roots of this teaching are certainly found in the gospel and have been developed throughout the centuries, modern Catholic Social Teaching started in 1891, when Pope Leo XIII issued the encyclical Rerum novarum. Some call the Catholic Social Teaching of the Catholic Church our best kept secret.
More recently, the Church has come up with a summary of CST in the form of seven principles. The goal of these principles is to help individuals to understand our positioning on social issues, as we are called to build a more just society and to live lives of individual holiness. These principles remind us that holiness is more than being just a “nice person.” They also remind us that charity is a good thing, but that we really are called to be individuals and communities that promote justice.
Interestingly, especially in the highly charged political times we live in, some of these principles sound very Republican, some sound very Democrat. We realize once again that no partisan political platform ever embraces the whole of our social thought. These principles are not conservative or progressive, they are Catholic.
What follows is the list of these principles:
- Life and Dignity of the Human Person
- Call to Family, Community and Participation
- Rights and Responsibilities
- Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
- Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers
- Care for God’s Creation
[We will develop these principles in the next three weeks, following the homilies preached at Sacred Heart.]
A note about the image used for the series: the title of the painting is Dens, Bird Nests and the Morning Miracle Que Detail #2, by Daniel Bonnell. We believe the painting captures the individual call to holiness and our social nature. Two of Bonnell’s paintings hang in our church.