Social Concerns: Stepping out of our comfort zones to live in solidarity

By Sara Ramirez
Catholic Charities of Central Texas 

In a society where many individuals find their identity based on their religion, language, education or nationality, the concept of solidarity, one of the core themes of our Catholic social teaching, can be a challenging one to comprehend, much less live out. 
As we move through season of Advent, a season of hope, during which we anticipate both the historical birth of Jesus as well as his second coming, we must remember that Jesus came and Jesus died for all –– whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic and ideological differences.
Christ’s life, from its very beginning, is an example to us of how to live in solidarity with our sisters and brothers with whom we share similarities and differences. As a baby, he was visited by shepherds coming from their fields as well as magi from the east bearing fine gifts. Individuals from different regions, different ways of life –– he brought them together.
Later in his ministry, when pressed by a teacher of the law to name the greatest of commandments, Jesus turns the question back to the Law of Moses which commands love of God and love of neighbor. “And who is my neighbor?” the teacher asks (Lk 10:29). Jesus responds with the Parable of the Good Samaritan –– the story of a man who, against all societal norms, crossed boundaries to extend kindness to a person in need. We are instructed to do the same.
At Catholic Charities, we take this charge seriously. In fact, these greatest commandments –– love of God and love of neighbor –– provide the foundation of our mission: People of faith serving anyone in need by strengthening families and promoting respect for human dignity and life. 
People of faith –– that’s love of God. Serving anyone in need –– that’s love for our neighbor. And not just our neighbor that looks like us, thinks like us or lives near us, but anyone in need. We serve without distinction according to race, religion, age, gender, ability or nationality. We serve because we recognize that every human person in every corner of society is made in the image and likeness of God, and that recognition compels us to action. We are one human family, one Body of Christ and one, holy, Catholic and apostolic church.
When we practice solidarity, we are spreading Christ’s love in the world so that others may come to know him. When a friend invited Laila to Catholic Charities, she was hesitant to come, unsure if her Islamic faith would disqualify her from receiving services. Her friend assured her that we were ready to help without question. Laila enrolled in the Gabriel Project Life Center to gain education and support throughout her pregnancy and the early part of her daughter’s life. Laila celebrated her daughter’s first birthday by sharing a cake with the staff of Catholic Charities. Written on the cake were the words, “Thank you church.”
Laila recognized in us what it means to be the body of Christ. “Those who receive the Eucharist are united more closely to Christ. Through it Christ unites them to all the faithful in one body –– the Church” (CCC 1396). 
This Advent, as we prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ, let us challenge ourselves to live out the teachings of solidarity in our everyday lives. Let’s step outside of our comfort zone and welcome those from different communities. The monthly CC101 lunch and tour is the perfect opportunity to come see Catholic Charities and our work to live out the Gospel in solidarity with all our brothers and sisters. Learn more at www.ccctx.org/get-to-know-catholic-charities.