1. The preferential love for the poor in the Church
The Acts of Apostles witness the attention and dedicated means shown by the first Christians towards those most in need in society. “They would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:45) Peter himself asks that seven men be chosen “full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3), to offer assistance to the poor.
All of the Church’s Tradition witnesses a preferential option for the poor, following the example of Lord Jesus Christ himself and the love for Him. This option “is implicit in the Christological faith in the God who became poor for us, so as to enrich us with his poverty” (Benedict XVI, Speech, 13th of May, 2007).
When speaking about poverty the Church does not limit itself to just materialistic deficiency. Spiritual poverty is diffused in a world of people “who no longer perceive the absence of God from their life as a deprivation” (Benedict XVI, Speech, 15th of November, 2012). These poor people, without even knowing, hope for the announcement of the Good News. The Church is called to give concrete answers to these new forms of poverty which compromise human dignity (Pope Francis, Apostolic Letter “Misericordia et misera“, 19, November, 2016). Moreover, the necessity that those in poverty have for the Church’s works of mercy, the Christians are the ones who need the poor: by them, we are evangelised; in them we can touch the flesh of Christ.
2. The poor in the Shalom Charisma
“Through evangelisation, service and genuine sharing of goods, the Community should be open to receiving the needy as a gift from God, identifying it as a privileged opportunity to serve the Lord Himself through concrete and effective evangelical ways” (Statutes of the Shalom Catholic Community, Preamble).
Grounded in the experience with the Risen One who passed through the Cross, the Shalom Community has a special dedication and care for the poor. While already baptised, as well as having a particular calling to be bridal souls of Christ, those who bring in themselves the Shalom vocation feel impelled to embrace all that belongs to Christ, to love what He loves, and to feel His feelings. For “in God’s heart, there is a preferential spot for the poor” (Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation, “Evangelli Gaudium“, 197, November, 2013). The love for Christ translates to the preference for the poor.
“St. Francis of Assisi did not marry poverty, or even the poor; he wed Christ and it was for love of Him that he wed, so to speak ‘in second nuptials’ Lady Poverty” (Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, First sermon of Advent, Rome, December 6, 2013).
Moysés Azevedo, founder of the Shalom Community, frequently says with persistence that the greatest poverty is not knowing God. On the other hand, the greatest good that can be offered to the world today is the Gospel, announced with Parrhesia (Greek word frequently used in the Shalom Spirituality which means with “audacity”, “conviction”, “firmness”) and acted upon through the conversion of heart and the structural transformation in favour of the integral good of men.
3. The activities of the Human Promotion
The Human Promotion sector in the Shalom Community has as its mission the task of encouraging and conducting its members to touch and act in service of Christ those in poverty.
Through the direction of this sector, all members of the Community, in the various lands of mission, develop projects and activities for adolescents and young people in vulnerable situations and social risk, with the aim of preparing them for the job market; they welcome abandoned children and those in vulnerable social situations, offering them educational activities; therapeutic treatment and rehabilitation for drug addicts in society; they promote activities directed towards the homeless and people who have been abandoned, such as, spiritual groups and professional courses; they organise systematic visits to hospitals, prisons and nursing homes/hospices, as a way of going to the encounter of the “lasts” of society, and with them share the comfort of the Good News of Christ.
Translation: Gabriela Gois
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COMUNITÁ CATTOLICA SHALOM – International Assistance
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