OFFICE FOR SOCIAL MINISTRY
“The Samaritan acts with true mercy: he binds up the man’s wounds, transports him to an inn, personally takes care of him, and provides for his upkeep. All this teaches us that compassion, love, is not a vague sentiment, but rather means taking care of the other to the point of personally paying for him. It means committing oneself to take all the necessary steps so as to ‘draw near to’ the other to the point of identifying with him: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ This is the Lord’s Commandment.” (Pope Francis, February 2017 message to the First U.S. Regional Meeting of Popular Movements)
Pope Francis sent this message about the Good Samaritan to a gathering of grassroots leaders from faith-based communities across the United States meeting last month in Modesto, California. Participants included a multi-ethnic group from Hawaii, including Catholics and evangelicals with Hawaiian, Portuguese, Filipino, Chinese, Samoan and Chuukese origins.
At the gathering were two-dozen U.S. Catholic bishops, Cardinal Peter Turkson, plus staff from the Vatican Office for Promotion of Integral Human Development, the U.S. Catholic Campaign for Human Development and Catholic Relief Services.
People of faith from all around the country shared stories of challenge and hope, reflecting on what Pope Francis calls the fundamental three “Ts”: tierra (land), trabajo (labor) and techo (housing). Among the speakers were people from Hawaii who have been involved in our diocese initiative “One Ohana: Food and Housing for All.”
Several bishops reflected on the stories shared in the light of faith. Bishop Robert MacElroy of San Diego called on participants to use Catholic social teachings to “see, judge and act” in response to Pope Francis, who wrote, “When we look into the eyes of the suffering, when we see the faces of the poor laborer, the downtrodden native, the homeless family, the persecuted migrant, the unemployed young person and the exploited child, we have seen and heard not a cold statistic but the pain of a suffering humanity, our own pain, our own flesh.”
The Modesto meeting ended proposing an action plan that included the following statement: “We believe that every human is sacred with equal claim to safe water, education, health care, housing and family-sustaining jobs. All people are protagonists of their future. We each have a right to be included in the decisions that shape our lives. Our faith leaders and congregations are called to stand with those whose backs are against the wall. We will be remembered not just by the empathy we express but by the actions we take.”
One of the plenary session presenters was Micaela, the Chuukese woman from Hawaii featured in a CRS Lenten Rice Bowl 2017 Story of Hope. After returning from Modesto, she and other Big Island Chuukese leaders continued their “story of hope” by planting more breadfruit trees near the Sacred Heart Parish food pantry in Pahoa.
Each week during Lent, CRS Rice Bowl 2017 provides a story of hope from around the world that demonstrates how Catholic social teaching puts faith into action. This year during the first week of Lent, Rice Bowl focuses on the “option for the poor,” the Catholic social teaching principal by which Jesus calls us to encounter and accompany those most in need.
This Lent we encourage everyone to use the Rice Bowl stories of hope, Stations of the Cross and suggested sacrifices of mercy to put our faith into action, “drawing near to the other” and “loving our neighbor as ourselves.” Mahalo,
Your friends at the Office for Social Ministry.