Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday - Concern

Holy Father reminds us that Lent is an opportunity to reflect on the heart of Christian life - Charity.  We reflect on charity both as an individual and as a community.  Our journey to charity is a journey of prayer, sharing, silence, and fasting.

Today Holy Father reflects, in part, on v. 24 of the Letter to the Hebrews - "Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works” (Heb 10:24).  The focus is concern for others, reciprocity, and personal holiness.  My post today will focus on his discussion of concern for others. 

The Greek verb, katanoien, is used in these writings.  Its deep meaning is to scrutinize, be attentive, to observe carefully, and take stock of something. 

We are reminded in Lk: 6:41 to observe the plank in our own eye before looking at the splinter in the eye of our brother. 

In Heb 3:1 we are told to turn our minds to Jesus.  Then to concern for others, and not to be indifferent to the needs of others.

Gen. 4:9 tells us to be guardians of our brothers and sisters.

God's greatest commandment of loving one another demands we acknowledge our responsibility towards others.  As we see others as our brothers and sisters, we experience solidarity, justice, mercy and compassion.  In populorum Progressia, 66, Paul VI states, "Human society is sorely ill. The cause is not so much the depletion of natural resources, nor their monopolistic control by a privileged few; it is rather the weakening of brotherly ties between individuals and nations."

Concern entails desiring what is good for others, physical, moral, and spiritual.  Contemporary culture seems to have lost it sense of good and evil.  In Ps 119:68 we read You are generous and act generously, teach me your will.  We are guided to reaffirm our generosity, to act generously.  It affairs that good exists.

Concern for others means being aware of the needs of others.  But often we fail because of our attachment to material possessions, or a sense of self-sufficiency, or perhaps, we put our self-interest above all.  But by nurturing our capacity for showing mercy towards others, we humble ourselves.  Our own experience of suffering can awaken within us a sense of compassion and empathy.

Our call to show concern for others also applies to their spiritual well-being.  We are commanded to not be silent before evil.  We must recover our capacity to not remain silent before the evil we see in an individual, a community, or in those who govern us.  Spiritual well-being demands that we reject adapting to the prevailing mentality of society if evil is its direction.  We are told to warn our brothers and sisters against actions that are contrary to the truth and do not follow the path of goodness.

We do this, not in a spirit of accusation, but rather be moved by love and mercy, a desire for the genuine good of others. (Gal 6:1) Brothers, even if a person is caught in some transgression, you who are spiritual should correct that one in a gentle spirit, looking to yourself, so that you also may not be tempted.

In the closing of Benedict XVI's message on Ash Wednesday, he says - Scripture tells us that even “the upright falls seven times” (Prov 24:16); all of us are weak and imperfect (cf. 1 Jn 1:8). It is a great service, then, to help others and allow them to help us, so that we can be open to the whole truth about ourselves, improve our lives and walk more uprightly in the Lord’s ways. There will always be a need for a gaze which loves and admonishes, which knows and understands, which discerns and forgives (cf. Lk 22:61), as God has done and continues to do with each of us.


Ginny said...

Well, it all comes down to; treat your neighbor as you would want to be treated and realizing that life is not all about us...sadly,this is not the way a lot of people think.

Annie said...

Dear Ginny

Thank you for your comment. Seems like such a simple message doesn't it? Alas, people don't get it. Blessed Lent to you and to yours.

Beautiful Whispers of Catholicism said...

Yes...I agree and I too need to put more effort on concern for others. We live in an'I' culture that I have all too many times been a part of. I'm working on myself though to think of others more before myself. Thanks Annie.

Felisol said...

This gave me lots to reflect about, even if none of it was "new". I just need to be reminded over and over again.
How great Gos is, who doesn't give me up.
Amazing grace.