I don’t usually form blog posts from comments, but I will in this instance as “Fr Richard’s” observations struck a chord with me. I have omitted paragraph three as I felt it detracted from the main thrust:
‘From a Christian viewpoint, it is clear that Christians need to be active in bringing the Gospel in both word and in action to these communities and in putting pressure on policy makers and fund holders for appropriate interventions…’
It is the phrase ‘putting pressure on policy makers and fund holders for appropriate interventions’ which irks me the most. Do we read in the Gospels or the Epistles of Jesus telling his apostles or Paul writing to some fledgling church, encouraging the brethren to lobby Caesar about the plight of the poor in downtown Jerusalem? Do we see, in the lives of the saints, of how John Chrysostom eschewed writing liturgy and sermons in preference for organising mailing shots at local officials to provide appropriate support for the local waifs and strays?
Here again, in the quote above, we see that it seems the Christian way of getting things done, is to tell someone else to do it for you! The state is seen as the means by which Christianity should have its influence in our society. Odd, call me a bit dim, but I thought Christians themselves were supposed to be salt and light; that it was by their own deeds – and not ‘charity by proxy’ – that the Kingdom was supposed to be advanced.
So much effort these days, by many a Christian organisation – and individual Christians – is put into telling society how it should behave and how it should spend its money. The lobbyist and the petition are seen as ‘faith in action’ as opposed to the more sacramental (and costly) act of rolling one’s sleeves up and actually doing some hands on work. It appears the effort of a certain flavour of Christian is to be society’s master, instead of its servant.
It’s all by-the-by I suppose, but who are the real casualties of this desire to get others to do the work? I would suggest Christians themselves – it is good to serve, to get one’s hands dirty, to be a servant, to labour and NOT seek reward (nor publicity!). At the end of the day saying ‘putting pressure on policy makers and fund holders for appropriate interventions’ is really just an admission of failure – an acceptance of the fact Christianity is side lined and needs others to do its bidding… Unless there is less reliance on the state to do that which Christians often claim is their own possession, then the sacramental and eschatological nature of charity will be forgotten and will be replaced by the bureaucrat and policy maker… But perhaps it is too late and this has already happened?