Franciscan Focus

Just a simple blog of a Secular Franciscan trying to live with a Franciscan focus.
(And one of these days I'll fix the template and add a Search feature. :-P)

24 November 2007

The Real Point Of It All 

While flippin' through the November 2007 issue of Homiletic & Pastoral Review, I was struck by what Fr. Brian Mullady, OP had to say in his "Questions Answered" column about the difference between Church and state. The whole thing is superb, but what grabbed my attention was his reminder that social justice is NOT the point of redemption or of the Church -- salvation is.

As a Franciscan, a Way Big Honkin' component of my Order's charism is social justice. You see it EVERYwhere in Franciscan literature, activities, and outreach; it's pretty much all we do in the way of apostolic activities. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to focus so exclusively on social justice and all its aspects that we forget that The Real Point of "living the Gospel" is To Get Ourselves And Others To Heaven.

On the whole (though there are happy exceptions), we've become an Order of "muckrakers", who, like the Man with the Muck-rake in Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, "could look no way but downward, with the muck-rake in his hand; who was offered a celestial crown for his muck-rake, but who would neither look up nor regard the crown he was offered, but continued to rake to himself the filth of the floor."(1)

Yes, we must, Without A Doubt, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and free the oppressed, but we cannot stop there. As Our Lord Himself said, "What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?" (Matthew 16:26)

Fr. Mullady excellently articulated this important reminder, and it's so good that I have to share snippets of it here:

"Christ founded no political state and blessed no one political style of government except that which accords with the truth of human nature, which is the natural law. Christ did found the Church, which is a supernatural society that begins here on earth but finds its final fulfillment in heaven. So the common good, the order to attain it and the authority of the Church are specifically different from the state.

"... The Lord did not die on the cross for any earthly purpose. Though he was often encouraged to take sides in politics, he did not. Social justice is the mission of the state and because the Church and grace favor nature and reason, Christ and the Church encourage citizens of all states to live in accord with a true common good. But that is not the purpose of redemption or of the Church.

"... Our Lord wanted to introduce grace into souls, which includes the fact that those who experience grace also live the life of reason and nature. It would not be Christian then for a Christian civil ruler to deny justice in the state. But the mission of the Church is the salvation of all, not implementing social justice, which is properly the duty of the state."
~ Fr. Brian Mullady, OP; "Questions Answered", Homiletic & Pastoral Review, November 2007.

Are you taking time to look up to see the celestial crown, or is your field of vision limited to the filth below? How can you hope to point out the crown to others if you yourself are blind to it?

(1) Theodore Roosevelt, The Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt, p.246.

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Blogger Barb Szyszkiewicz said...

I get SO tired of all the social-justice stuff overwhelming what is really at the heart of what we need to be about. Because if we are doing what we should be doing, we don't need to concentrate on social-justice; it will take care of itself.

25 November, 2007 07:20  

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