Stephen J. Pope is a professor in the Theology Department of Boston College and the author of several books. He defines Christian service as a sign of faith, humility, and hope. He then adds this insight by the late Bishop Kenneth Untener of Saginaw, Michigan:
“It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.”
Christians are fortunate to have a large number of exemplars of the faith who have given their time and talent to serve others. Pope has chosen six of them and linked them with qualities or virtues that are worthy of emulation:
- Dorothy Stang ( Stewardship)
- Dorothy Day (Hospitality)
- Mother Teresa (Compassion)
- Martin Luther King, Jr. (Advocacy)
- Oscar Romero (Solidarity)
- Pierre Claverie (Witness)
Readers are sure to resonate with Stang’s stewardship of the good Earth and those who take care of it; with Day’s full and rounded espousal of hospitality as a form of spiritual practice sorely needed in our times; with Mother Teresa’s reverence for those whom society has rejected; with King’s advocacy on behalf of those oppressed by racial discrimination, violence, and injustice; of Romero’s solidarity with the poor; and with Claverie’s "witness to God’s love of all humanity."
Compassionate service lies at the heart of Jesus's ministry and therefore is a core principle in the living out of the Gospel. Although the emphasis in this paperback is on the individual efforts of these six spiritual heroes, Pope makes it clear that service is a co-operative enterprise. He concludes with this thought:
"Love is the heart of service and the measure of all that is valuable about being human."