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6/25/2017 8:27:00 AM
Looking up and raising up

Fr. Eugene Hemrick

After the rain, I checked my garden and found everything I planted had jumped up significantly. Not only did I jump with joy, but I took a second look at the word "up" to learn why it often connotes delight.

The dictionary defines it as going from a lower to a higher place, to be away from or to be out of the ground. In the Bible, it can signify heavenly thoughts and spaces: Elijah is taken up in a fiery chariot and Christ ascends in a cloud to heaven.

In the encyclical "Charity in Truth," Pope Benedict XVI states "the whole church, in all her being and acting -- when she proclaims, when she celebrates, when she performs works of charity -- is engaged in promoting integral human development." In other words, charity is best when its aim is to raise up another's humanity.

This insight brought back memories of my upbringing and those who constantly worked at raising up my humanity. At dinner, my parents often passed on wisdom aimed at making us good human beings: "Always play with those who can better you." "Be a gentleman at all times." "Thank God for the food on our table."

Lessons aimed at making us a better person hygienically included: "Brush your teeth, wash your hands before eating and keep your room clean."

Others responsible for improving my humanity were teachers who strived to make us good students so we would have a more fruitful and enjoyable life. Among those teachers were religion teachers imbuing us with moral lessons and reverence for God.

When I worked various jobs, there was always someone looking out for me. "This is how you can do it better and save yourself extra work." "Watch me and try to follow my example." Oh yes, I had my ups and downs, but more ups than downs, thanks to caring people.

Charity is envisioned helping someone, and at its best, this translates into raising up their humanity. It is one thing to give money to a homeless person, yet another to see him or her as a human person whose humanity needs repairing and to connect with them heart to heart to make this happen.

We have to believe if there was a little more "promoting integral human development," we would see an increase in people who were once downtrodden walking tall with heads held high.

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