The Church has always faithfully exercised her mission of caring for those in need. The times have changed, but the same difficulties always present themselves with new aspects. Vice has always degraded human beings, earlier gambling and alcohol were key problems, today having lost none of their detrimental character, they have had to yield the first place to drugs… And an unending list of other vices plague us.
The Church has performed true marvels in its work in favor of the unfortunate, offering multiple opportunities for them to better their lives. But, above all, the Church has always been concerned about the most necessary element of human life: finding God and living according to his commandments. It is an edifying deed to accompany an elderly person, but leading someone from the darkness of error to live the life of grace deserves even greater admiration. This is what the Church has done with innumerable souls who have benefitted from its truly charitable works. Venerable Matt Talbot, an Irish alcoholic rescued from his vice, and Saint Bakhita, a poor African slave, liberated from the yoke of oppression, are both examples of this triumph. The Church not only liberated them from physical misery, but also from the worst of evils: the slavery of sin.
The works of mercy should always be oriented in accordance with this affirmation of Our Lord: ‘What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?’ Is this the care that Francis proposes in relation to most unfortunate? Does he seek to foment a ‘pastoral ministry’ that merely cares for people’s bodies, or does he seek a more profound transformation, the sanctification of souls?
It is essential to draw near to new forms of poverty and vulnerability, in which we are called to recognize the suffering Christ, even if this appears to bring us no tangible and immediate benefits. I think of the homeless, the addicted, refugees, indigenous peoples, the elderly who are increasingly isolated and abandoned, and many others. Migrants present a particular challenge for me, since I am the pastor of a Church without frontiers, a Church which considers herself mother to all. For this reason, I exhort all countries to a generous openness which, rather than fearing the loss of local identity, will prove capable of creating new forms of cultural synthesis. How beautiful are those cities which overcome paralysing mistrust, integrate those who are different and make this very integration a new factor of development! How attractive are those cities which, even in their architectural design, are full of spaces which connect, relate and favour the recognition of others! (Apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, no. 209-210)
Enter in the various parts of our study
II – For Christ to dwell in souls, the state of grace is indispensable
III – It is necessary to give dignity to those who suffer and not demean those evangelized
IV – The good of souls is the most important aspect of evangelizing activity