We are God’s hands

By  Brittney White, Youth Speak News
  • April 13, 2007
Every day I hear people all around me say, “We are so blessed to live in Canada,” and I agree. There is a plethora of resources, an abundance of food, warmth, shelter, career advancement opportunities and let’s not forget beauty. Every time I hear comments like this I am filled with ease, but at the same time I cringe.
After spending two summers in Central America and working toward another mission to Guatemala this summer, I cannot help but think of how much responsibility Canadians and other developed nations have toward our brothers and sisters in the South and worldwide.

Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” How true this statement rings. My journey into Central America floods me with anxiety and leaves my heart torn between striving for education and the riches of the North versus devoting my life to a certain sort of freedom that is created out of choosing to live a life of voluntary poverty in the South.

Catholic social teaching requires Catholics to ensure that dignity is granted to all human beings based on the sole fact that a person is human. My heart bleeds black for the ignorance that people in developed nations often have toward those people lacking basic needs — those lacking dignity.

As a common humanity striving toward justice, people need to venture into underdeveloped nations to encounter poverty. In neighbourhoods across Canada we have children on the streets, people lined up at soup kitchens daily, racism and social barriers that prevent the reintegration of people back into “mainstream society.” As a common humanity we leave people all around us threadbare.

Catholic social teaching has defined a grassroots term to aid in the restoration of justice. The term is subsidiarity, meaning working from the ground up. Imposing big ideals on someone with so little really does not help. In the image of Jesus we must strive to be present with people and little gusts can ignite whirlwinds of change.

I feel as though the resources and the ability to help those in need are literally in our hands — they are our hands, but we must use them to reach out to build, to hold, to protect, to love.

The Second Vatican Council demanded that Catholics respond to the ailments of the world. Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Populorum Progressio opens: “The progressive development of people is an object of deep interest and concern to the church. This is particularly true in the case of peoples who are trying to escape the ravages of hunger, poverty, endemic disease and ignorance; of those who are seeking a larger share in the benefits of civilization and a more active improvement of their human qualities:.”

Whether on missions, in soup kitchens or opening a blind eye to the poverty of your next door neighbour, Jesus calls us all to respond, “Blessed you who are poor :. Woe to you who are rich” (Luke 6:20,24).

As Catholics and Christians everywhere we have a responsibility to love and allow for the development of empathy in a broken world.

(White, 21, is a psychology student at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.)

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