REFLECTIONS ON THE POPE'S MONTHLY INTENTIONS
Editor's Note: Apostleship of Prayer receives monthly prayer intentions from the pope and urges Christians throughout the world to unite in prayer for those intentions. The reflections below seek to illuminate the Holy Father's concerns.
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Throughout history people have held a negative view of politicians. Yet this month’s prayer intention reminds us that the ultimate goal of politics is justice and charity.
Human beings are not isolated individuals but social beings. The Catechism states: “The human person needs to live in society. Society is not for him an extraneous addition but a requirement of his nature” (#1879). As a result we need laws (and legislatures to enact them) and officials (to enforce the laws) and judges (to interpret the laws and settle conflicts). We simply cannot do without such “public servants,” and in a democracy we exercise the right and responsibility of electing them.
However, given that human nature is wounded by sin, we tend toward selfinterest. We elect officials who will give us what we want, and they in turn often make decisions based on what will get them re-elected. The challenge is for everyone to work together for the common good, a key element of the Church’s social doctrine.
In The Joy of the Gospel Pope Francis wrote: “Politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good.”
Charity concerns not only how we treat each individual but the effects our decisions have on our neighbors near and far. As we pray for our political leaders, that they may work for the common good of all and especially the most vulnerable members of society, we commit ourselves to choices in daily life and in the voting booth that will embody our own concern for the common good.
What are the priorities that I bring to elections? How do those priorities compare to God’s priorities?
1 Timothy 2: 1-6 I ask that prayers, supplications, and petitions be offered for all in authority.
That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.
A UN-Habitat document reports that Latin America has the largest gap between those who are wealthy and those who are poor. Brazil heads the list and is closely followed by Mexico and Argentina.
Yet Latin America is the most Catholic continent in the world. How can this be? Apparently, as is the case everywhere, believers don’t take the Gospel and the Church’s teaching seriously enough to affect their actions outside of church.
Yet change is possible. Last year, on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose appearance in 1531 in Mexico led to the largest conversion in history, Pope Francis spoke of the hope that is given when people turn to God.
He said: “Latin America is the ‘continent of hope’! For we expect from it new models of development, which link Christian tradition to civil progress, justice and equity to reconciliation, scientific and technological development to human wisdom, fruitful suffering to hopeful joy.”
Then, finishing his homily he said: “We place these hopes on the altar as a gift pleasing to God. Imploring his forgiveness and trusting in his mercy, we celebrate the sacrifice and Paschal victory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one Lord. He calls us to live the true life, a more human life, to live together as children and brothers.”
With each Morning Offering we join ourselves to the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the greatest power for change that the world has ever known. We offer ourselves this month for the poor in Latin America.
How do I “bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society”?
2 Corinthians 8: 1-15 Your surplus at the present time should supply their needs.
Lord God, give us more politicians capable of sincere and effective dialogue aimed at healing the deepest roots—and not simply the appearances—of the evils in our world! I beg you, Lord, to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor! Open their minds to you, O God, and inspire their plans. Amen
--Adapted from #205, The Joy of the Gospel
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