And that enemy is selfishness engendered by materialism. Pope Francis has described ‘a culture of exclusion’, ‘a throwaway culture’ and ‘a globalisation of indifference’.”
The reason the Church can reach out like this is because the Catholic faith builds on the truth about man, and is never afraid of the truths of human nature.
And one of those truths is that, in order to build a society that merits the name of “human” at all, we have to practice the principle of solidarity.
Solidarity is a virtue as well as a principle of society, and it is best described by the rallying cry of Alexander Dumas’ Three Musketeers: “One for all and all for one.”
To be human means that I cannot be indifferent to any other human being, because every human being has something to offer me, and I have something to offer to any and every other person.
Selfishness, where I close myself in on my own needs, wants, and goals is the antithesis of solidarity.
It leads me to see everyone else as a means to my ends. Everyone I see is a stone to step on or an obstacle to be cleared away for my own advancement.
What is true of a family and Pope Francis had much to say about the family this past weekend is also true of the larger human family:
“The promotion of a ‘culture of relationship’ and ‘a culture of solidarity’ is thus imperative for all peoples, and calls for the fostering of relationships based on friendship and mutual respect for the benefit of the entire human family. This requires a common recognition and promotion of the intrinsic dignity of the human person. It is evident then that friendship and solidarity are closely related. In the end, a ‘culture of solidarity means seeing others not as rivals or statistics, but brothers and sisters,” Pope Francis said.
One does not have to be a player on the world stage in order to practice the virtue of solidarity.
When with my family, friends and colleagues, am I trying to get my way, or am I at the service of others?
I must confess that I fall short of this, but if I am honest, I am happiest when I open myself to an attitude of service. I also learn the most when I am open to others.
The happiest people I know are the ones that constantly look out for the good they can do for others.
I have known happy Catholics and happy Hindus. I have known selfish Catholics and selfish adherents of other belief systems.
By greeting Hindus on Deepavali, the Church is not saying that all religions are the same.
She is saying, though, that all people are the same.
We all flourish when we open ourselves to others and work for the common good.
We are all at our best when we adopt and live the Musketeer philosophy. In the Catholic Faith, we find the full strength of grace to break out of the centripetal force of selfishness. We will get nowhere in evangelisation if we don’t value and care about every person we encounter. In fact, if we don’t care, true human encounter isn’t even possible.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
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