“I can’t do everything!”
Have you ever been so overwhelmed and frustrated that you say to others…or God…“I can’t do everything!”
Perhaps it has been exasperation with those in your family who were not pulling their weight. Perhaps it was a sense of helplessness when it dawns on you that the needs of the least of our brothers and sisters are far greater than imagined… or ask for more of me than I expected.
Well, I suspect you are not alone. I even suspect that might have been on Jesus’ mind as he carried us on his cross.
I confess to such feelings when I read Fratelli Tutti “dangerously.” I began to realize the implications of being called to see beyond my nose and not give up on God’s dream. I began to realize the magnitude of personal transformation and societal changes God lays out for us.
In this final section of what turned out to be a three-part reflection, I share with you moments when, as I “read dangerously,” felt “I can’t do everything.”
97. . Every brother or sister in need, when abandoned or ignored by the society in which I live, becomes an existential foreigner, even though born in the same country. They may be citizens with full rights, yet they are treated like foreigners in their own country. Racism is a virus that quickly mutates and, instead of disappearing, goes into hiding, and lurks in waiting. 98 (There are) “hidden exiles” who are treated as foreign bodies in society. (I personally think of all the unborn, the frail elderly, the handicapped, or anyone with special needs whether physical, mental, or moral.) 118. The world exists for everyone, because all of us were born with the same dignity. Differences of color, religion, talent, place of birth or residence, and so many others, cannot be used to justify the privileges of some over the rights of all. As a community, we have an obligation to ensure that every person lives with dignity and has sufficient opportunities for his or her integral development.
This next one is especially challenging for me.
120. Solidarity means much more than engaging in sporadic acts of generosity. It means thinking and acting in terms of community. It means that the lives of all are prior to the appropriation of goods by a few. It also means combatting the structural causes of poverty, inequality, the lack of work, land and housing, the denial of social and labor rights. 121. No one, then, can remain excluded because of his or her place of birth, much less because of privileges enjoyed by others who were born in lands of greater opportunity. The limits and borders of individual states cannot stand in the way of this. As it is unacceptable that some have fewer rights by virtue of being women, it is likewise unacceptable that the mere place of one’s birth or residence should result in his or her possessing fewer opportunities for a developed and dignified life. 125. This presupposes a different way of understanding relations and exchanges between countries. If every human being possesses an inalienable dignity, if all people are my brothers and sisters, and if the world truly belongs to everyone, then it matters little whether my neighbor was born in my country or elsewhere.
It would be too easy for me to thank God that the Vincentian Family is acting on these things. I need to remember that while I can’t do everything, I must do something.
I invite you to read, think and live dangerously doing what you can.