My husband loves the scan feature on the car stereo. Monday evening, when he was scanning, he stopped on a Protestant call-in show. The caller was bemoaning the fact that his father was largely non-spiritual.
He went on to explain that his dad had been baptized and raised Roman Catholic, but in those early days of adulthood, when he was struggling to keep out of poverty himself, the Church (Catholic, that is) asked him to give money. He left the Church immediately. They were all hypocritcal, he said.
I fully expected the show's host to use this as an opportunity to discredit the Roman Catholic Church. God bless him, he didn't do that. He actually quoted Our Lord, who was known to say, "sell everything and give it to the poor" when a man came to him, boasting that he followed all the commandments and asking what more he should do. Our Lord knew he had one obstacle to overcome. He didn't know how to give.
As one who is on the inside (of the Catholic Church), I appreciated the host's words. I also thought about the caller's claim against the Church and wished I could speak with him myself.
For you see, our beloved Church is a friend to the poor. If this man had a legitimate need, the Church would have been there to help him. I know She would. She has done it over and over again for anyone who stands in need. But she must ask the faithful to contribute. The laity are the hands and feet of Christ. The Church needs those who "have" to give generously so that She can help those who "have not".
Which brings me to one of my earliest discoveries about Mother Church. (Taken from an article I wrote for the One Bread Lay Apostolate in 2006.)
If you love me, feed my sheep. Care for the hungry, naked, sick, imprisoned, oppressed, and broken-hearted. Wherever there is suffering, the Church is there. Wherever there is injustice, the Church is there. Wherever there is poverty, the Church is there. To be the hands and feet of Jesus. While it is true that other Christian communities have faithfully answered this call, none have done it so thoroughly as the Catholic Church. None so comprehensively. And certainly, only the Church can boast of a tradition of service that spans more than two millennia.
In 2003, U.S. Catholic Charities provided food to nearly four and a half million people across the nation. They provided other basic living needs for 1.1 million people and disaster relief to over thirty thousand people. Catholic Relief Services takes the Lord’s hands and feet to 99 countries worldwide, to feed the poor, to provide emergency response in areas devastated by natural and man-made disasters, and to care for the sick.
It doesn’t end there. In fact, the scope of Catholic outreach is so comprehensive, we would have to study every religious order and lay apostolate in order to understand the depth and breadth of Catholic love. There are thousands of Catholics involved in hundreds of religious orders and lay apostolates. I suppose, only Our Lord knows the degree to which the Catholic Church ministers to the people of the world.
If you love me, feed my sheep. And the Catholic Church answers, yes Lord, send us. When Jesus says, go ye therefore into all nations, She goes. When Jesus says, feed my sheep, She feeds them. When Jesus says, you must be the servant of all, She becomes a servant to all. When Jesus says, no greater love has any man than to lay his life down, She lays down her life, again and again.
She is a witness to the world – and has been for more than two thousand years.