Our spiritual journey
Sister Ruth Bolarte

“Mind my own business” is one the many idiomatic expressions that I learned quickly in English. This saying means that one should stop prying in what does not concern her/him. Probably, it will be hard to find a literal translation into Spanish. Since some of us from Latin cultures may make it our business to get involved in peoples businesses in order to help, support, and sometimes-only for the sake of being part of what’s happening!

A character who “minded his own business” was Jacob Marley. Some of us may be familiar with Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Perhaps we remember the dialogue between Scrooge and Jacob Marley when Jacob laments, “Business! . . . Mankind was my business! The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

Last June, Pope Benedict XVI presented to the all the faithful his encyclical letter Charity in Truth. The document explains how truth and charity are linked with one another. Truth is the light that gives meaning and value to charity. Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Especially in a society which relativizes truth, there is a danger that we may apply our own “meanings” of love, even when we speak of the Gospel’s message of love.

Charity in truth is the principle of the Church’s social doctrine. The document considers particularly two aspects of this doctrine: justice and the common good. First, we must be just toward the person-giving the other what is “his/hers” by reason of his being. In Paul VI’s words, it is “the minimum measure” of charity. On the other hand, charity transcends justice as it manifests God’s love to humanity. The Pope continues to explain how when we love someone we desire that person’s good and take steps to achieve it. It is not a love that remains in “nice words.” Thus, “to desire the common good and strive towards it is a requirement of justice and charity”.

With great detail, the letter elaborates how love for others requires involvement in politics, sharing all of earth’s resources equitably, promotion of workers’ associations so they can defend their rights, attention to the phenomenon of migration, greater access to education, opportunities for encounter between cultures and peoples, respect to the fundamental right to life of every people…The Pope reminds us that the “primary capital to be safeguarded and values is man, the human person in his or her integrity.”

Convincingly, Pope Benedict XVI states that our modern globalized society may make us neighbors but does not make us brothers and sisters. Only when we can make it our business the common welfare of all, “hearts of stone” are to transformed into “hearts of flesh” (E. 36:26). It is God’s love gives us courage to continue seeking and working for the benefit of all. How are we doing “minding the business of humankind?

Sister Ruth Bolarte, I.H.M., is the director of the Catholic Institute for Evangelization in Philadelphia.