A man is never just material for the future; he is an end in himself. He is not consumed by his relationships but remains always a new question that reaches into eternity, that demands a personal response, that can never be completely planned in advance. That is why there will never be any relationship that will render superfluous the personal, caring, and loving intervention in behalf of a fellow human being.… But the real heart of Christianity is, and will always be, love of neighbor. For, in very fact, each individual is infinitely loved by God and is of infinite value. Christ says to each of us the words so feelingly formulated by Pascal: “In my mortal agony, I thought of you. I shed these drops of blood for you.” If we are able by our love to give meaning to another person, to just one other person, our life will have been infinitely worthwhile. And it will always be so: that men live by their encounter with the love that gives meaning to their lives—it is true of every relationship; no reform, no revolution, can make this gift superfluous. It is likewise true that in all relationships it would be redemptive if, in a world marred by hostility and alienation, one individual would leave the collective and be a brother. These redemptive encounters, which are recorded in no history book, form the true inner history of the Church, which today, more than ever before, we forget in our concern about the history of institutions. Only by helping to liberate others are we ourselves liberated; only by sheltering others do we ourselves receive shelter; only by caring for others will we ourselves find someone to care for us. Once they recognize the two-sidedness of this relationship, people will be cautious about reproaching us with patriarchalism. If we seriously undertake to concern ourselves about the protection of others, we will soon discover that others will be concerned about us. Perhaps we are so antagonistic today, so notably helpless in our efforts to be Christian, because it is so often ourselves that we are attempting to help.
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (pp. 290–291). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.