THE CHURCH IS A PEOPLE OF CHARITY

Column Writing ·Matthew 25:35-46 ·Español
By Archbishop Gomez
October 29, 2014
Source: Angelus News
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As we prepare for Election Day next week, the California Catholic Conference has offered reflections and analysis on the important propositions on the ballot this year.

You can find these reflections elsewhere at AngelusNews.com.   

This time of year is a reminder that our faith as Catholics calls us to civic participation based on the values of the Gospel and the vision of Catholic social teaching. 

Voting for officials and propositions is an important part of our civic duty. But we also need to be engaged in concrete actions that make a difference in our neighborhoods and communities.

And in this, I continue to be amazed at how much the Church is part of the fabric of ordinary life in our cities and towns across the archdiocese. It is beautiful to see all the good works, all the people we are helping and all the lives we are changing. 

The Church is a tremendous force for good in our community — not only through the services offered by organizations like our Catholic Charities and St. Vincent de Paul Society. 

Several weeks ago, I celebrated an anniversary Mass for the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. They have been in Los Angeles for 110 years. 

These good sisters opened the city’s first center to help women and children who are victims of domestic violence — back in 1904. That shelter is still open today. And sadly, it’s still needed. 

The point is that all across the archdiocese, Catholics are engaged in countless ministries of service. We’re running preschools and after-school programs; assisted living and senior facilities; shelters for the homeless and domestic violence victims. 

We are working with partners to reach out to women and children who are caught up in human trafficking — modern slavery going on in our cities and neighborhoods. 

Our parishes and charities provide substance abuse and mental health counseling. We have a “restorative justice” program for young people and many different programs to work with “at risk” populations.

Day to day, you will find Catholics — wherever people are suffering, wherever people are vulnerable and hurting.  

This is a beautiful reflection of our Catholic identity. All of us in the Church must be dedicated to charity, justice and good works. 

In a video address earlier this month to Catholic Charities USA, Pope Francis said: “We are called to be a Church, a people of and for the poor.”

Jesus was clear that we must express our love for God through our love for our neighbors. 

And, as we know, the love that Jesus calls us to is more than feelings and emotions, more  than just talking about things and having good intentions. 

It is important to have love in our hearts and in our attitudes. But Christian love cannot stop there. 

Love is an “action word.” It means we have to “do” something. So our Christian love must be expressed in concrete works of service to our brothers and sisters. 

Love means serving all those people who need our help. It means feeding the hungry, clothing the naked. Love heals the sick and comforts the dying.

This love is what makes our Christian participation in society different. We are not just “do-gooders” or only humanitarians. 

What makes Christians different is that we know that every person is truly our brother or our sister, created in the image of God. What makes Christians different is that we know we are in the presence of God when we are in the presence of the poor. And what we do for the poor, we do for God. 

For the Church, charity and compassion are the “language” of the new evangelization. Through our simple gestures, our humble acts of service — we proclaim that Jesus is risen today and alive among us.

Through our works of charity and mercy, we show the love of God to those in need. By our love, we show to our society that no one is outside the love and care of God. 

We are all here to serve. We are all here to give ourselves to others. We are all here to help one another carry the burdens that we all have in this life.  

So in this election season, let’s pray this week for one another and for our state and country. 

And let’s ask our Blessed Mother Mary, Our Lady of the Angels, to help us to keep working together to make this truly “a city of the Angels” — where every human life is valued and welcomed, and where the poor and vulnerable, the elderly and sick, are protected and served with compassion.

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