Working for the common good is a law implanted in our very nature, says St. Ambrose. The example of our own bodies shows that doing anything to injure someone else injures the whole, and therefore eventually ourselves.
Think, human, where your very name comes from—from the humus, the earth, which takes nothing from any one, but gives freely to all, and supplies varied produce for the use of all living things. Thus humanity is called a particular and innate virtue in man, for it assists its partner.
So we see how grave a matter it is to deprive another, with whom we ought rather to suffer, of anything, or to act unfairly or injuriously towards one to whom we ought to give a share in our services. This is a true law of nature, that we should all of us in turn help one another, as parts of one body, and should never think of depriving another of anything, since it is against the law of nature even to abstain from giving help.
We are born in such a way that limb combines with limb, and one works with another, and all assist each other in mutual service. But if one fails in its duty, the rest are hindered. If, for instance, the hand tears out the eye, has it not hindered its own work? If it were to wound the foot, how many actions would it not prevent?
But how much worse is it for the whole man to be drawn aside from his duty than for one of the members only! If the whole body is injured in one member, so also is the whole community of the human race disturbed in one person. The nature of mankind is injured, as also is the society of the holy Church, which rises into one united body, bound together in oneness of faith and love. Christ the Lord, also, who died for all, will grieve that the price of his blood was paid in vain.
–St. Ambrose, On the Duties of the Clergy, 3.3
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Have I been acting for the good of the whole body today?
Have I injured some part of it?
Father, keep all your faithful people united in heart and mind, so that your Church may live in harmony.
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