“Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another” (Zechariah 7:9).
Pope John Paul II stated, “We are all really responsible for all.” Every individual in God’s human family has a certain responsibility to cooperate in unity. As members of the human community, we must look out for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
There are ten foundational principles which comprise the social teaching of the Church. The Principle of the Common Good reinforces the idea that social conditions are such that everyone is able to reach his or her full human potential and realize their God given human dignity. The common good is about respecting the rights of all people. The individual does not have unrestricted rights at the expense of others, but the rights of the group do not come before individual rights.
In the view of the Catholic Church, the optimal social conditions require mutual respect among all members of the community, as well as the government maintaining peace and security. These conditions lead to the social well-being and development of each individual. Today, when our world is so closely connected, there is a need for international structures to support the just development of individuals within our global society.
We can look to the Bible for examples of promoting the common good. There is an important lesson in the Book of James, 2: 14-16, which says, “What does it profit, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and no food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm and eat well,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?”
Matthew 25:35 states, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” This is a powerful lesson about what we should be doing as members of God’s human family. When we bring comfort to the sick, feed the hungry, or clothe the needy, we are reminded of how Jesus taught us to do for the least of our brothers and sisters.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul works to promote the common good in the community. From reaching out to those who are isolated or in need, to speaking out to those in government to make them aware of the needs that exist, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul seeks to turn concern into action. As the Bible states, you must not only have faith, but also take action to help others in need.
The Saint Vincent de Paul Society of Philadelphia has many ways, customized to each local community, for you to transform the lives of your neighbors as well as your own life. Like that of its founder, blessed Frédéric Ozanam, the vision of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul “is to embrace the world in a network of charity.”