The parable of the Good Samaritan be summed up simply: My neighbor is anyone in need, and I’m to love him as I love myself.
Applied globally, current-day Catholics call this concept solidarity, and solidarity is why I am traveling to Africa this September to be your eyes and ears regarding the ministry of CRS.
Catholic Relief Services is sending a delegation of diocesan directors from across the country on an immersion trip to experience the U.S. church’s global solidarity ministry. I will be travelling with 11 other directors to see firsthand the ministry of CRS in Ethiopia and Tanzania. While there, I will be meeting the “neighbors” we help through CRS programs such as: water and sanitation, HIV and AIDS, agricul- ture and livelihoods, and microfinance and peacebuilding. Some of these neighbors will be financially poorer than we as Americans can imagine, living on less than a dollar a day. These two nations are among the poorest of the poorest on Earth.
From my research, there are a myriad of reasons for this African poverty. Some include tropical climates that promote disease, colonialism that created artificial nations, farm subsidies that suppress the world price for crops, drought, lack of capital, war, and the list goes on. In these places, the poorest places, the church is present through the work of CRS working to help the people lift themselves out of poverty. As Catholics, we confess that these are privileged places, for our Lord taught that where the poor are, he is there. You and I can’t all go there, but through our support of Catholic Relief Services and other Catholic missions we are all present as the body of Christ. I feel very blessed to have been chosen to go on your behalf.
Pope Benedict teaches that Jesus, by revealing the Father’s love for us, taught us how to live as brothers and sisters. Solidarity is the idea that, because we as humans are called to communion with God and each other through Christ, we are to love every person as family. We are challenged especially to love the poor and those in need. This love starts with a personal relationship and transcends into sacrificial service.
I hope to come back from Africa and share with as many as I can what I’ve seen and heard. Please pray for me and feel free to contact me if you would like me to come to your parish group to talk about our work in Africa through CRS.