by Fr. Keith Branson, C.PP.S., Publications Editor
“No one must say that they cannot be close to the poor because their own lifestyle demands more attention to other areas. This is an excuse commonly heard in academic, business or professional, and even ecclesial circles. While it is quite true that the essential vocation and mission of the lay faithful is to strive that earthly realities and all human activity may be transformed by the Gospel, none of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and for social justice: ‘Spiritual conversion, the intensity of the love of God and neighbor, zeal for justice and peace, the Gospel meaning of the poor and of poverty, are required of everyone” (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, paragraph 201).
It’s tempting to think: “That’s his ministry, that’s her ministry, that’s not my concern.” There are so many things we’re called to pay attention to as missionary Christians, it’s overwhelming, so we want to delegate. After all, I skipped the Bi-Location class in seminary and know I can’t be everywhere doing everything. There are things I’m better at, and its easier to focus on those and let other people worry about things I don’t want to. This temptation means I can wash my hands of caring for the poor, the dying, the immigrants, and all those ministries I’m rarely part of.
Following Christ, imitating Gaspar’s example, doesn’t let us see our work as a series of cubicles we occupy individually, working in isolation from one another. The danger of delegation is disassociation, which isn’t part of our spirituality. Even though different people take leadership for various tasks, we’re all called to be part of everything in some way: seek to do more to help each ministry and do our part better. Vocations are more than Timothy, Matt and Vince; Hospice is more than Tom and Daryl; Campus Ministry is more than Daniel and me; Companions are more than their emerging leadership; Provincial Leadership is more than the Provincial and the Council. If we all don’t take a part, we run the risk of failure: failing to live Christian community as fully as we can.