To recap the Vision post: Jesus’ vision was that Emmanuel, God-with-us is a kingdom over which God reigns, on earth as it is in heaven. A vision like this means that we need to have a clear understanding from Jesus of what that vision will look like. For example, in God’s kingdom power would be shared according to the gifts and needs of the time. It is not a weapon to be used for personal gain, but only to influence others for the coming of God’s Kingdom. Jesus made it clear in his inclusion of women in His circle that leadership in God’s kingdom flows from God to others, and from others to others regardless of gender or state in life.
When considering the parish Vision, what are the Values that come out of that vision and support the vision? Some of these values might include:
- The parish values the good of the other before our own good.
- The parish values each person as made in the image and likeness of God.
- The parish values power shared and in service to the mission.
- The parish values the weakest among us as deserving of our first attention.
- The parish values justice, defined as ordering our lives according to God’s created order.
One can also look to the Social Justice themes of the Catholic Church for inspiration for values that support Jesus’ vision coming to life through your particular parish.
According to the US Bishops website, these values include (1):
- Life and dignity of the human person – Human life is sacred because all human beings are created in the image of God, and the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society.
- Call to family, community and participation – The person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society — in economics and politics, in law and policy — directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community.
- Solidarity – Loving our neighbor has global dimensions in a shrinking world. At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace.
- The dignity of work – The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation.
- Rights and responsibilities – Every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities–to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.
- Option for the poor and vulnerable – A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.
- Care for God’s creation – Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan; it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in a stewardship relationship with all of God’s creation.
Values are translated into behaviors. Behaviors incarnate the coming of God’s Kingdom. Here are some behaviors that could demonstrate that your parish is using the value statements of Catholic Social Teaching to bring the Kingdom to life:
- Warmly welcome visitors to the church offices.
- Hold a “water drive” to collect bottled water for communities suffering a disaster.
- Feed the hungry through the food pantry of the parish.
- Support life and dignity of the human person by participating in pro-life activities.
- Prison ministries.
- Join in a clean-up effort for waterways or highways.
- Advocate for care of the poor and vulnerable through engagement in the political process.
- Sponsor a refugee family.
These behaviors are also directly linked to Jesus’ criteria for judgment found in Matthew 25:31-46: (2)
- For I was hungry and you gave me food.
- I was thirsty and you gave me drink.
- I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
- Naked and you clothed me.
- Ill and you comforted me.
- In prison and you came to visit me.
While every parish shares Jesus’ vision and every parish is obliged to live out of His values, the actual ways each parish is called and gifted to do that are directly correlated to who God has gathered in that parish, the levels of conversion and therefore the generosity with the resources available.
Remember, Vision and Values are what undergirds servant leadership. Vision and values are the foundations for setting direction, and then empowering others to co-create part of God’s Kingdom. They are the stuff of leadership.
(2) New American Bible, Matthew Chapter 25:31-46