Another year is upon us! Still in the context of our beautiful Christmas season, many of us will answer the questions: “What will be new in my growth as a follower of Jesus? What tangible changes of heart and habit will I strive for in 2020?” Perhaps we might even ask those questions as a parish community. As Christian stewards, you and I could come up with some definite hopes and dreams for our personal and overall parish conversions, especially in light of the encouragement of Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation: The Joy of the Gospel. In that document we are called over and over again to shine as the light and love of Jesus in the world.
Pope Paul VI also dealt with the demeanor of the faithful in his decree: On the Mission Activity of the Church. In this document, which also deals with evangelization, he writes: The presence of the Christian faithful in these human groups should be inspired by that charity with which God has loved us, and with which He still wills that we should love one another. (cf. 1 John 4-:11) Christian charity truly extends to all, without distinction of race, creed or social condition: it looks for neither gain nor gratitude. (#12)
The word charity seems like such a simple term, but it generates a powerful outcome. It addresses all areas of the life of a Christian steward including time for our relationship with God, each other, the environment and human life. Charity asks us to consider our attitudes towards others, the use of our talents and of course our treasure. Saint Teresa of Calcutta was someone who placed the word within her heart and let it drive her life as a disciple of Jesus.
Perhaps you will make a list of New Year’s resolutions for 2020. Perhaps you will set some simple goals as parish leaders this year. As you sit down to reflect, consider using the beautiful word charity as a guide and see how your resolutions might look different from prior years. Consider how it might help you imitate the life of Jesus more fully. Have a happy and charitable 2020!
by Mary Ann Otto, Minister for Missionary Discipleship, St. Joseph and St. Mary Parishes, Appleton, Wisconsin