The biblical roots of the common good teaching lie in the Hebrew Scriptures where we find the prophetic call to care for the widow, orphan, and stranger, and to create a just community that looks beyond its own needs to those of its most defenseless members. Concern for the poor permeates the New Testament as well, and the call to love our neighbor as ourselves ties our well-being to that of the larger community. Only when we take care of one another will we find the freedom and security we seek. Although the conviction that our lives are interdependent lies at the core of the common good tradition, this teaching cannot be reduced to a vague sense of compassion for the suffering of others. It requires recognition that we are, in fact, responsible for one another. Our well-being is thoroughly rooted in mutual care, and that means an ongoing commitment to the good of each individual. This kind of compassion directs us to provide for the welfare and dignity of all people not just a few, and a special focus on the poor and vulnerable.
Love one another
Consider the current prejudices and stereotypes that undermine our commitment to the common good. Examine your own support for these ideas. How does that square with what we say we believe?
Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor, and do not devise evil against another in your heart.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples.
You cannot make offerings to the Church on the shoulders of the injustice that you practice towards your dependents. This is a very serious sin: using God as a cover for injustice.
Authority is mainly a moral power; therefore, it must first call upon the conscience, that is, upon the duty that each person has to contribute willingly to the common good.
Pope John XXIII
Deep human connection is the purpose and the result of a meaningful life – and it will inspire the most amazing acts of love, generosity, and humanity.
A nation is formed by the willingness of each of us to share in the responsibility for upholding the common good.
To work for the common good is the greatest creed.
It is difficult for the common good to prevail against the intense concentration of those who have a special interest, especially if the decisions are made behind locked doors.
For Christians, faith is a precious good, the most valuable personal and social resource. When it is left untapped, the common good suffers – not just the particular interests of Christians.
Patriotism is love of country. But you can’t love your country without loving your countrymen and countrywomen. We don’t always have to agree, but we must empower each other, we must find the common ground, we must build bridges across our differences to pursue the common good.
In leadership writ large, mutually agreed upon purposes help people achieve consensus, assume responsibility, work for the common good, and build community.
Joseph C. Rost