A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Don’t Tell — Show

Posted on: June 3, 2013

During my brief time at law school, I often heard in my criminal law classes that “Justice must be done and must be seen to be done.”

I think we could say something similar about Christians. Maybe “Christians must love mercy and must be seen to love mercy,” or “Followers of Jesus must act like Christians and must be seen to act like Christians.”

In Matthew 23:2-3, Jesus cautioned his followers and disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice” (Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition). As Christians, we don’t want to be tarred with the same brush.

Those familiar with The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman know that we can’t assume a person feels loved. We have to show our love in a way that person will understand. In the same way, it’s not enough to tell people that love, justice and mercy are important to us as Christians; we have to show that these values are important to us.

So how do we do just that? Here are ten suggestions of ways to show love for our neighbour and a commitment to justice and mercy:

  • Help people care for their yard or shovel their driveway when physical challenges or illness prevent them from carrying out these tasks.
  • Donate non-perishable items to food bank collection bins or small change to stores’ charity collection boxes.
  • Let someone else make good use of clothing we no longer wear: think outgrown children’s clothing, dress clothes for men and women who need clothing for job interviews, or even prom or wedding dresses just hanging in our closets.
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen (such as the one run by the Shepherds of Good Hope) or a parish or community food bank.
  • Help newcomers to Canada adjust to life in their new country by volunteering with an organization like the Catholic Immigration Centre of Ottawa.
  • Support the pro-life movement by participating in an event like a 40 Days for Life campaign or by writing letters to elected officials asking them to support pro-life legislation.
  • Support charities that work for social justice. The Canada Revenue Agency’s listing of charities and the Canadian Council of Christian Charities website provide valuable information about charities’ finances and values.
  • Minister to prisoners by providing bibles (for example, through the Canadian Bible Society) or serving on a Bible study, worship or visitation team through an organization like Prison Fellowship Canada.
  • Look into socially responsible investing, or ethical investing, when considering retirement savings options.
  • Contact MPs and MPPs to voice an opinion on legislation that could affect the justice and mercy that will be shown to both current and future citizens.

May we share the prayer of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman: “Help me to spread your fragrance everywhere I go—let me preach you without preaching, not by words but by my example” (quoted in Eerdmans’ Book of Famous Prayers).


Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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