We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences… Our love for our brothers and sisters demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict.
~USCCB, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions,1998
This month, our Catholic social teaching theme is Solidarity. Solidarity focuses on the unity of all human beings; truly we are all one family, and when we ask the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”, the answer is clearly, “Yes”. We are called not only to serve others or to assist them when the need arises, but also to share in their experiences. The call to solidarity means that we work with those in need and not just for them. We don’t just feed the poor; we learn from their experiences and make sacrifices so as to share in their poverty. We don’t just speak for other people; we help others to find their voice as well.
There are several saints to whom we can look for examples of living out the call to solidarity. St. Damien of Molokai lived among lepers in a colony in Hawaii, serving them despite the risk to his own health. Damien did contract leprosy, but he did so willingly in order to be one with his brothers and sisters in Christ. St. Maximilian Kolbe was a Catholic priest in Poland who was captured by Nazis and sent to Auschwitz. While there, he took the place of a Jewish man who had been chosen to die. Maximilian was sent with nine other Jewish men to be starved to death. He prayed with and ministered to those nine men until his death. These are just two examples of someone truly joining in solidarity with other people in order to serve them.
These examples make solidarity seem like a call that is too large to live out. But we can still answer this call by doing small things with great love. During Lent this year, the Catholic Community of Waukesha will participate in Catholic Relief Service’s annual Rice Bowl program. One of the recommendations that comes with this practice is to donate the money that would be spent on dinner, and instead, eat a simple meal from a third-world country. This is a way to join in solidarity with people in need while also taking action to help alleviate that need. Ultimately, through solidarity we can help those in need while also honoring their worth as human beings. What small things can you do with great love to be united to your brothers and sisters in Christ?