To answer why we need to understand what social ministry is. Social ministry is not just charity. It also includes working for justice. The two, charity and justice, must work together. Charity is helping people with what they need today. This begins with food, shelter, and medical care. Justice works to change the systems, or the holes in the systems, that keep people from having their basic needs fulfilled. Programs like food collections, Christmas Baskets, and immediate relief to places like Haiti after the earthquake are charity. Justice would include efforts to promote health care reform, working for pro-life legislation, and immigration reform.
So why are we called to do charity and to work for justice? Because Jesus tells us to!
In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus calls us to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the ill, and visit the imprisoned. These are the Corporal Works of Mercy. Jesus tells us we will be judged by what we do to help those in need.
Thus, social ministry is not to be the work of just a few in the parish. It is something we are all called to help with. It is a vital part of how we are called to live our faith. If you are not willing to help others have you really heard Jesus call to love our neighbor?
Yet we are all called to help in different ways according to the gifts God has given us. Everyone in the parish is called to be involved in social ministry but not everyone does everything. How might you give of your time, talent, and treasure? One person may be able to give a lot of money (treasure) but may not have much time to give. Another person may be able to give of their time to help sort donated items or serve at a soup kitchen. A nurse or doctor might be called to volunteer a couple of hours at a health clinic. Please note that while I say everyone in the parish should be involved in social ministry, not all of these activities, like a health clinic, happen at the parish.
Another possibility is to pray for those in need, whether at a parish Rosary for Life, or alone at home, pray for God’s help for these people and that we all know how we are called to help.
Rich or poor, we are all called to be attentive to the needs of others. I remember seeing a family who helped deliver a few Christmas baskets. The last basket they delivered was their own. This family could not buy stuff for others because they needed help themselves but they did give of what they had – time and their manpower. We are all called to help those in need in some way.
How are you called to help?