What is the Common Good?
“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Cor. 12:7)
The phrase “common good” used in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian is integral to understanding the call we have as Christians and the social obligation which it includes. Concern for the common good lies at the heart of the Christian vision and mission. Sadly, the phrase it is often misunderstood, so a fresh look at this vital aspect of our call to “make disciples of all nations.”
One place where we see a good definition is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states: By common good is to be understood “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.
More completely, the Common Good:
- Presupposes respect for all persons
- Assumes that public authority will support and respect the inalienable rights of all people.
- Encourages the exercise our natural freedoms
- Calls forth actions on the part of individuals that contribute to the well-being and proper moral framework of society.
The Catechism also underscores that, regarding government, It is the role of the state to defend and promote the common good of civil society, its citizens, and intermediate bodies.
The Common Good is expressed in three forms. It is a way, a work and a movement. These three practices underscore the work of the Common Good Foundation.
The Common Good as a Way
Our relationship with Jesus Christ and having membership in His Body, the Church, is meant to affect every aspect of our lives and influence the way in which we participate in the today’s culture.
In a document from the early Church, dating around 125AD, called a “Letter to Diognetus,” an early disciple explains how Christian follow this way in the world.
For Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind either in locality or in speech or in customs. For they dwell not somewhere in cities of their own, neither do they use some different language, nor practice an extraordinary kind of life. Nor again do they possess any invention discovered by any intelligence or study of ingenious men, nor are they masters of any human dogma as some are. But while they dwell in cities of Greeks and barbarians as the lot of each is cast, and follow the native customs in dress and food and the other arrangements of life, yet the constitution of their own citizenship, which they set forth, is marvelous, and confessedly contradicts expectation.
For Christians, then, the common good of all is a part of our normal way of life and the Common Good foundation can provide resources that can help you live your faith “out loud.”
The Common Good as a Work
What is our work as Christians? In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Our Lord doesn’t want to have us hide tis light under a basket. We are all called to let the light of grace that is in us shine forth in the things we do. This expression can take place through many different types of ministries, some formal and others quite spontaneous, as we live out our lives in this world.
Through the Common Good Foundation, you will be able to find work to do, joining with other like-minded and like-hearted Christians from all backgrounds.
Common Good as a Movement
As Christians, we are called into the real world to continue the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ until He returns. No area of the culture is off limits because Christianity is a call to a new way of being human without regard to our nationality, ethnicity or place in society.
We are invited to live their daily lives differently and to encourage others to do the same. We can invite our neighbors, by both our word and witness, to consider the truths of the faith we proclaim.
As St. Paul wrote to the Romans, I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world[a] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Part of this renewal of our minds includes re-thinking how we view our social and cultural responsibility. It then obligates us to action. The projects of Common Good, organized under its four pillars of participation, express both.