"Truth in Love, Caritas in Veritate"
A Reflection on the recent encyclical of Pope Benedict
By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD
Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
Reformed Catholic Church International of New England
This week I have chosen to write my reflection on the encyclical that was released by Pope Benedict XVI. I will begin with what he said At an audience before the wives of some of the worlds presidents and prime ministers in Italy for the Group of Eight meeting and follow up with my own view of not only the encyclical but the who notion of how TRUE LOVE is the only answer to the worlds problems.
The Bishop of Rome noted that the inspiration for the encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate” is a passage from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians 4:15, in which the apostle speaks of acting according to truth in charity: “Rather living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ.”Benedict XVI acknowledged that he did not pretend to offer technical solutions to social problems but that the encyclical "focuses on the principles indispensable for human development. Most important among these is human life itself," he declared, " Benedict XVI gave particular attention to the "scandal" of world hunger, noting how "Caritas in Veritate" calls for "decisive action to promote food security and agricultural development, as well as respect for the environment and for the rule of law."
When we read Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians in it’s entirety we find it also points out the diversity of God’s creation with these words; “Christ chose some of us to be apostles, prophets, missionaries, pastors, and teachers, so that his people would learn to serve and his body would grow strong.” … “We must stop acting like children. We must not let deceitful people trick us by their false teachings, which are like winds that toss us around from place to place. Love should always make us tell the truth…. Christ holds it together and makes all of its parts work perfectly, as it grows and becomes strong because of love. As a follower of the Lord, I order you to stop living like stupid, godless people. Their minds are in the dark, and they are stubborn and ignorant and have missed out on the life that comes from God. They no longer have any feelings about what is right, and they are so greedy” ….“Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don't yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ”.
Obviously, even in St. Paul’s time, people were being self centered and disposed to greed often forgetting the Corporal and Spiritual works of mercy which instruct us: To feed the hungry; To give drink to the thirsty; To clothe the naked; To harbor the homeless, To visit the sick; To ransom the captive; To bury the dead., To instruct the ignorant, to counsel those in doubt, To admonish sinners, To bear wrongs patiently, To forgive offences willingly; To comfort the afflicted and To pray for the living and the deceased. In our world today I believe that we whom God has called to be His servants here on earth must remind those we serve of their responsibilities, as children of God, to practice these works of mercy and to point out that if all persons did so, the world would be a much better place in which to live. LOVE is the key that opens the door to a better world. Love of self as God created you, love of your neighbors, friends and even enemies as Christ pointed out when He taught; "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44) The message of LOVE is consistent throughout scripture here are just a few examples; “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (Romans 12:14).“We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it” (1 Corinthians 4:12). “On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17-21). “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9). “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble” (1 John 2:9-10).
The bottom line is that if we all began to practice loving one another as Christ loved us and realized that love is not just Carnal but spiritual and requires hard work to become a reality we could change the world. I remember how THE FLOWER CHILDREN of the 60’s were disparaged because they attempted to promote this way of life but then they went astray by uniting the message with the carnal type of love and participating in sexual promiscuity or as they called it FREE LOVE.
There is no such thing as free love, love takes responsibility and dedication in order to be real and fulfilled. In order for TRUTH IN LOVE or CARITAS IN VERITATE or any real change to happen in this world we have to change our current ways of being self-centered and greedy we need to take to heart St. Paul’s words when he wrote to the Ephesians “no longer have any feelings about what is right, and they are so greedy” ….“Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don't yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ”. (Ephesians 4:17-20) AMEN