Love and the common good

For several weeks now, at his weekly general audience, Pope Francis has focused on different themes from Catholic Social Teaching as the means of healing the world. I've followed these talks with professional interest, due to my ministry, but also as an RSCJ, committed to justice and caught up in the desires of Jesus' Heart - wanting people to flourish and grow in dignity, to know that they are infinitely lovable, and infinitely loved.

Today's talk focused on love and the common good. And as I read these words... A virus that does not recognise barriers, borders, or cultural or political distinctions must be faced with a love without barriers, borders or distinctions.

... I thought of the Heart of Jesus, and of the Sacred Heart sculpture we created for Digby Stuart College in 2006. A variation on our symbol, of the world within an open heart, it shows landmasses, but not where nations begin or end: as in the Sacred Heart, there are no frontiers or border controls; and everything - everyone - is embraced, is held, by that same, wide-open Heart. The globe can be turned, because in Jesus' Heart everywhere is most prominent; everywhere is in the centre.

Covid19 has challenged and changed many of the ways in which we can demonstrate our love. We must be careful who we touch, and embrace - and now, with a return to greater restrictions, who and how many we can even meet. We can no longer draw physically close to people, with our earlier ease - although distancing is in fact a supreme act of love and self-sacrifice, as well as self-care. Project workers who used to sit down with users or serve them meals must now hand over takeaways, saying 'no' when they long to say 'yes' to what used to be uncomplicated requests.

But regardless of rules and distancing, we can still love: and in a time of fear, xenophobia and division, we - I - can still pray and aim for hearts as open and un-bordered as the Heart of Jesus. And we can still seek, and go on seeking, to love according to the ideal presented in today's catechesis; to heal the world by loving and working together for the common good...

It is therefore time to improve our social love – I want to highlight this: our social love – with everyone’s contribution, starting from our littleness. The common good requires everyone’s participation. If everyone contributes his or her part, and if no one is left out, we can regenerate good relationships on the communitarian, national and international level and even in harmony with the environment. Thus, through our gestures, even the most humble ones, something of the image of God we bear within us will be made visible, because God is the Trinity, God is love, God is love. This is the most beautiful definition of God that is in the Bible. The Apostle John, who loved Jesus so much, gives it to us. With His help, we can heal the world working, yes, all together for the common good, for everyone’s common good.