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Consecrated life: Action

Monday, March 02, 2015
Once upon a time, there was a lawyer. He thought he could test Jesus by asking a tricky question.

Actually, it is not a real question. The lawyer knows the answer already. But still, when the moment comes, the lawyer shouts out from among the crowd: "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" But Jesus knows that the lawyer knows. So He lets the lawyer answer his own question: "You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself." And Jesus answers: "You have given the right answer, do this, and you will live" (Lk 10 1:25-28)

Do this and live. But how?

In a previous episode of this series on the Consecrated Life, brother Mateusz gave us helpful steps to come closer to God in contemplation, to learn to love Him with our heart, soul, strength and mind. Contemplation, he wrote, required attention, vigilance and concentration. The same is true when it comes to taking action, the "doing part".

You could say that the three principles of contemplation are the engine behind the three stages of social action which were developed by Cardinal Jozef Cardijn (1882-1967), and endorsed by Pope Saint John XXIII in the Encyclical Mater et Magistra (1961):

"First, one reviews the concrete situation; secondly, one forms a judgment on it in the light of these same principles; thirdly, one decides what in the circumstances can and should be done to implement these principles. These are the three stages that are usually expressed in the three terms: look, judge, act" (#236).

Firstly, we pay attention to our world. We have to carefully observe the big developments and the tiny details. To listen to the hopes and fears of the people we meet everyday. Secondly, we have to judge these impressions. We have to analyze what we have heard, using philosophy, social sciences and common sense. And then we have to reflect theologically on the outcomes. We have to be vigilant in this reflection: what will bring us closer to God, what would tear us away? Is the human dignity of each and every person served? What about justice? What about peace? What about the most marginalized? And finally, when we start to act, we have to concentrate. There is much to do. We have to make choices. We have to pray for guidance when making those choices. Where, and to whom, is God calling us?

To conclude, contemplating the life of Jesus and discovering His friendship in the Eucharist will challenge us to act: to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt 5:13-14). Following Jesus means learning to come out of ourselves to go to meet others, to go towards the outskirts of existence, to take the first step towards our brothers and sisters (Pope Francis, General Audience, 27 March 2013). 

Do this, and live.


Br Richard Steenvoorde O.P.

Br Richard Steenvoorde O.P.


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