On the Good Done Outside the Church Community

"We must all be always able to appreciate and esteem each other"

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CASTEL GANDOFLO, Italy, OCT. 1, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

The Gospel of this Sunday presents one of those episodes of the life of Christ that, although, reported “in passing,” so to speak, contain a profound meaning (cf. Mark 9:38-41). It tells that someone, who was not one of Jesus’ followers, cast out demons in Jesus’ name. The Apostle John, young and zealous as he was, wanted to stop him but Jesus did not permit it; on the contrary, he takes the occasion to teach his disciples that God can do good and even wondrous things outside of their circle, and that it is possible to work together in the cause of the Kingdom of God in different ways, even offering a simple glass of water to a missionary (9:41). 

St. Augustine writes in this regard: “Just as in the ‘Catholica,'” that is in the Church, “we can find that which is not Catholic, so also outside of the ‘Catholica’ there can be something Catholic” (“On Baptism Against the Donatists,” PL 43, VII, 39, 77). For this reason the members of the Church must not be jealous but rejoice if someone outside the community does something good in Christ’s name, as long as he does it with the right intention and with respect. It can also occur that in the Church herself sometimes there is a failure to value and to appreciate, in a spirit of profound communion, the good things done by various ecclesial groups. We must all, however, be always able to appreciate and esteem each other, praising the Lord for the infinite “imagination” with which he works in the Church and in the world.

In today’s liturgy there also echoes the Apostle James’ invective against the dishonest rich, who place their trust in the security of wealth gained unjustly (cf. James 5:1-6). In this connection Caesarius of Arles states: “While riches cannot harm a good man because they make him merciful, they cannot help a bad man inasmuch as he holds on to them greedily or wastes them in dissipation” (Sermons 35, 4). The Apostle James’ words, while they warn against the vain pursuit of material goods, constitute a powerful call to use them with a view to solidarity and the common good, acting always with equity and morality at all levels.

Dear friends, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, let us pray that we might know how to rejoice in every good deed and initiative, without envy and jealousy, and to use earthly goods wisely in the continuous pursuit of eternal goods.

[Following the Angelus, the Holy Father spoke in various languages to those present. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters!

I follow with affection and concern the situation faced by the population of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was also recently the topic of a high level meeting at the United Nations. I am especially near to the refugees, to the women and children, who suffer on account of continued armed conflict, violence and a deep malaise. I pray to God that peaceful paths of dialogue and protection for the many innocent people might be discovered and that peace founded on justice might soon return, and that these people who have been so sorely tried, and the whole region, might experience a renewal of fraternal coexistence.

[In English he said:]

I welcome the English-speaking pilgrims here at Castel Gandolfo and in Rome! Dear friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus calls us to be not only open-hearted, but also firm in our opposition to what is dishonest or evil. May God grant us to be both generous to others and steadfast in living a life of purity and integrity. Upon you and your loved ones, I invoke the strength and peace of Christ our Lord!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

Finally I offer a cordial greeting to the Italian-speaking pilgrims, beginning with the members of the new pastoral council of the parish of Castel Gandolfo. Dear friends, as you know, tomorrow I return to the Vatican; with affection I say to you “Arrivederci” (see you later) and I ask you to pass along my greeting to the whole community [...].

I wish all of you, dear friends, a good Sunday, a good week! See you later! Have a good Sunday!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]