Catholic Relief Services recently found themselves in hot water after one of their VPs shared that the charity was “proud” not to “engage in discussions of faith.” He elaborated, “We assist everybody because we’re Catholic, we don’t assist people to become Catholic.” After getting a bit of flack from other Catholic organizations, CRS backpedaled and laid blame to misinterpretation. But with or without the damage control, his advertisement for faith-free charity remains a scandal, and not an isolated one.
We all know that we do well to bring God glory by serving the least of these in their temporal needs… clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, etc. But to what end? That they may die with a full belly, ignorant of the love of God?
Jesus calls us to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). And while CRS is certainly at fault for its failures to do so, their error calls into question my own response to God’s commandment. Because I’m not on the front lines of a charity, serving the destitute under a clear banner of faith, my challenge lies in fulfilling God’s will to proclaim His Holy Word in my own, average American life. Although spreading the love of God to those in material poverty would seem easiest and especially righteous, most of us aren’t likely to find ourselves in such humble circumstances. Instead, we should consider those with whom God has connected us most directly, who may have stocked pantries but hungry hearts.
I think first of my husband and children. In the vocation of marriage and motherhood, leading your spouse and children to Heaven, to sainthood, is one’s highest priority. Second, my parents, siblings and relatives. If I am so privileged as to enjoy eternity in the company of the angels and saints, although I am promised uncompromised joy, what sadness to imagine my loved ones missing out on that experience. Third, my friends and acquaintances. So clever is God in bringing certain people together through chance moves, meetings and introductions… what a disservice it would be not to let His light shine in all those relationships, so that those living without His company may encounter Him through me…
Encounter Him in His fullness, as He desires to be, in the truth of the Catholic faith. Until we enjoy the beatific vision of Christ in Heaven, the closest we can be to our Lord on this earth is receiving Him in the Holy Eucharist. It is an immense gift of faith to recognize Jesus in the consecrated host, and one we should not be ashamed to share. For Jesus Himself said, “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.” (John 6:53). There is no greater hunger than this… for the body of Christ. And no one shall be satisfied without Him.
So we mustn’t make the same mistake as CRS, concerning ourselves only with the temporal needs of others, but also working to satiate their spiritual hunger. We should point every person we know toward the Holy Eucharist. If they recognize the True Presence of Christ, hold them accountable to the proper reception of His most precious Body and Blood. If they misunderstand Holy Communion as being only representative of Christ, instruct them with your most passionate effort to help them find the Truth. And if they do not know Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, introduce them the greatest gift our Lord has given us since his death and resurrection.