November 17, 2017

That All May Be One / Fr. Rick Ginther

Volunteer, make time to fulfill the mission of loving your neighbor

Fr. Rick GintherPart of a diocesan priest’s daily prayer is the Liturgy of the Hours. One part of this is the Office of Readings: Psalms, followed by a Scripture reading and a reading from other writers in the Church (ancient through the 1960’s).

On a recent day the second reading came from “Gaudium et Spes” (“The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World”).

Appropriately, ecumenical and interreligious writings often reference “Unitatis Redintegratio” and “Nostra Aetate,” two decrees of the Second Vatican Council.

However, other Vatican II documents point toward this essential work of the Church. Paragraphs 88-90 of “Gaudium et Spes” do just that. And they are quite timely as we enter the holiday seasons when we pay greater attention to the basic needs of human beings.

“…[A] method of collecting and distributing contributions [for the poor and needy] should be established in each diocese and nation and on a worldwide level. Wherever it seems appropriate, there should be joint action between Catholics and other Christians. The spirit of charity … in fact demands them.

“In order to foster and encourage cooperation among men, the Church must be present and active in the community of nations. It must work through its own public organizations with the full and sincere cooperation of all Christians in their one desire to serve all mankind.

“This end will be more effectively achieved if the faithful are themselves conscious of their human and Christian responsibilities and seek to awaken among those in their own walk of life a readiness to cooperate with the international community.

“Finally, it is to be hoped that, in carrying out their responsibilities in the international community, Catholics will seek to cooperate actively and constructively with other Christians, who profess the same Gospel of love, and with all men who hunger and thirst for true peace.”

Though these quotes have a “worldwide” thrust, they invite us to reflect on our own communities.

So many times folks have asked me: “How can I be involved in ecumenical work, or interreligious work? I am not a theologian! But what can I contribute?”

Ecumenical and interreligious work finds expression in our cooperative efforts for justice. During these winter months when food, clothing and housing insecurity is the most visible and pronounced, this is especially true.

Do you know what your parish or religious community is doing to assist folks in need right now? Are any of the efforts linked to the efforts of other Christian communities, mosques, synagogues or temple?

Some of my fondest memories of parish life in Tell City, Richmond, Terre Haute and Indianapolis are the times Christians and people of other faiths worked together addressing human needs.

Are you involved through volunteering, organizing or contributing? To leave it solely to “others” to work cooperatively for local regional, national or international relief is not enough.

Yes, Catholic Relief Services, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Catholic Charities and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul are all worthy channels, and each has its connections to ecumenical and interreligious partners.

But what makes the Gospel real, what says “We care together” is the more local and tangible cooperative efforts in which you participate yourself.

Look around. There are ecumenical and interreligious cooperative opportunities. Help fulfill the mission of loving your neighbor, along with and through your neighbor!
 

(Father Rick Ginther is director of the archdiocesan Office of Ecumenism. He is also pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Indianapolis.)

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