Nov 082017
 

We show our respect and love for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan; it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.

Scripture

God made the heavens and the earth and it was good.

Genesis 1:31  31God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good.       

Humans are commanded to care for God’s creation.

Genesis 2:15    15The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.

The land itself must be given a rest and not abused.

Leviticus 25:1-7   The LORD said to Moses on Mount Sinai: 2 Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When you enter the land that I am giving you, let the land, too, keep a sabbath for the LORD. 3For six years you may sow your field, and for six years prune your vineyard, gathering in their produce. 4But during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath of complete rest, a sabbath for the LORD, when you may neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. 5The aftergrowth of your harvest you shall not reap, nor shall you pick the grapes of your untrimmed vines. It shall be a year of rest for the land. 6While the land has its sabbath, all its produce will be food to eat for you yourself and for your male and female slave, for your laborer and the tenant who live with you, 7and likewise for your livestock and for the wild animals on your land.

All of heaven and earth belong to the Lord

Deuteronomy 10:14   14Look, the heavens, even the highest heavens, belong to the LORD, your God, as well as the earth and everything on it.

All the earth is the Lord’s.

Psalm 24:1-2   The earth is the LORD’s and all it holds, the world and those who dwell in it. 2For he founded it on the seas, established it over the rivers.

Creation proclaims the glory of God.

Daniel 3:56-82

56Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven,

     *praiseworthy and glorious forever.

57Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord,

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

58Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord,

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

59You heavens, bless the Lord,

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

60All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord,

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

61All you powers, bless the Lord;

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

62Sun and moon, bless the Lord;

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

63Stars of heaven, bless the Lord;

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

64Every shower and dew, bless the Lord;

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

65All you winds, bless the Lord;

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

66Fire and heat, bless the Lord;

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

67Cold and chill, bless the Lord;

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

68Dew and rain, bless the Lord;

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

69Frost and chill, bless the Lord;

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

70Hoarfrost and snow, bless the Lord;

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

71Nights and days, bless the Lord;

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

72Light and darkness, bless the Lord;

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

73Lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord;

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

74Let the earth bless the Lord,

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

75Mountains and hills, bless the Lord;

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

76Everything growing on earth, bless the Lord;

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

77You springs, bless the Lord;

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

78Seas and rivers, bless the Lord;

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

79You sea monsters and all water creatures, bless the Lord;

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

80All you birds of the air, bless the Lord;

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

81All you beasts, wild and tame, bless the Lord;

     *praise and exalt him above all forever.

82All you mortals, bless the Lord;

     *praise and exalt him above all forever

God loves and cares for all of creation

Matthew 6:25-34

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? 27Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? 28Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. 29But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. 30 If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ 32All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. 34Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.

Creation reveals the nature of God

Romans 1:20   20Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made.

 

Tradition  

A true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. . . . Everything is connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society. (Pope Francis, On Care for Our Common Home [Laudato Si’. . . ],nos. 49, 91)

The notion of the common good also extends to future generations. The global economic crises have made painfully obvious the detrimental effects of disregarding our common destiny, which cannot exclude those who come after us. We can no longer speak of sustainable development apart from intergenerational solidarity. Once we start to think about the kind of world we are leaving to future generations, we look at things differently; we realize that the world is a gift which we have freely received and must share with others. Since the world has been given to us, we can no longer view reality in a purely utilitarian way, in which efficiency and productivity are entirely geared to our individual benefit. Intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us.  (Pope Francis, On Care for Our Common Home [Laudato Si’. . . ], no. 159)

We human beings are not only the beneficiaries but also the stewards of other creatures. Thanks to our bodies, God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement. Let us not leave in our wake a swath of destruction and death which will affect our own lives and those of future generations.(Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel [Evangelii Guadium. . . ], no. 215)

The environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole. . . Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other. (Pope Benedict XVI, Charity in Truth [Caritas in Veritate]. . . , nos. 48, 51)

Changes in lifestyle based on traditional moral virtues can ease the way to a sustainable and equitable world economy in which sacrifice will no longer be an unpopular concept. For many of us, a life less focused on material gain may remind us that we are more than what we have. Rejecting the false promises of excessive or conspicuous consumption can even allow more time for family, friends, and civic responsibilities. A renewed sense of sacrifice and restraint could make an essential contribution to addressing global climate change. (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence and the Common Good)

Equally worrying is the ecological question which accompanies the problem of consumerism and which is closely connected to it. In his desire to have and to enjoy rather than to be and to grow, man consumes the resources of the earth and his own life in an excessive and disordered way. . . . Man, who discovers his capacity to transform and in a certain sense create the world through his own work, forgets that this is always based on God’s prior and original gift of the things that are. Man thinks that he can make arbitrary use of the earth, subjecting it without restraint to his will, as though it did not have its own requisites and a prior God-given purpose, which man can indeed develop but must not betray.  Instead of carrying out his role as a co-operator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature, which is more tyrannized than governed by him. (St. John Paul II, On the Hundredth Year [Centesimus Annus. . . ], no. 37)

The dominion granted to man by the Creator is not an absolute power, nor can one speak of a freedom to “use and misuse,” or to dispose of things as one pleases. The limitation imposed from the beginning by the Creator himself and expressed symbolically by the prohibition not to “eat of the fruit of the tree” (cf. Gen 2:16-17) shows clearly enough that, when it comes to the natural world, we are subject not only to biological laws but also to moral ones, which cannot be violated with impunity. A true concept of development cannot ignore the use of the elements of nature, the renewability of resources and the consequences of haphazard industrialization – three considerations which alert our consciences to the moral dimension of development.(St. John Paul II, On Social Concerns [Sollicitudo rei Socialis. . . ], no. 34)

©2017 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

 

Solidarity

 Week 6 Solidarity  Comments Off on Solidarity
Oct 312017
 

We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they may be.  Loving our neighbor has global dimensions in a shrinking world. At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace. Pope Paul VI taught that “if you want peace, work for justice.” The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers. Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict.

Scripture

God blessed Israel so that all nations would be blessed through it.

Genesis 12:1-3

The LORD said to Abram: Go forth from your land, your relatives, and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. 2 I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the families of the earth will find blessing in you.

May our leaders be agents of peace and justice.

Psalm 72:8-14

8May he rule from sea to sea, from the river to the ends of the earth. 9May his foes kneel before him, his enemies lick the dust. 10May the kings of Tarshish and the islands bring tribute, the kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts. 11May all kings bow before him, all nations serve him. 12For he rescues the poor when they cry out, the oppressed who have no one to help. 13He shows pity to the needy and the poor and saves the lives of the poor. 14From extortion and violence he redeems them, for precious is their blood in his sight.

These are the things you should do: Speak truth, judge well, make peace.

Zechariah 8:16 -17 

These then are the things you must do: Speak the truth to one another; judge with honesty and complete justice in your gates. 17Let none of you plot evil against another in your heart, nor love a false oath. For all these things I hate—oracle of the LORD.         

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Matthew 5:9  

9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Be reconciled to one another before coming to the altar.

Matthew 5:21-24

21“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. 23Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, 24leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Living rightly means to love one another.

Romans 13:8-10  

8Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, [namely] “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.

If one member of Christ’s body suffers, all suffer.  If one member is honored, all rejoice.

1 Corinthians 12:12-26

12As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. 13For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. 14Now the body is not a single part, but many. 15If a foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. 16Or if an ear should say, “Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.” 22Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, 23and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, 24whereas our more presentable parts do not need this. But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, 25so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. 26If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.

In unity, clothe yourself with love and let the peace of Christ reign in your hearts.

Colossians 3:9-17         

9Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator. 11Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all. 12Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience 13bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. 14And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. 15And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The love of God in us is witnessed to by our willingness to lay down our lives for others as Christ did for us.

1 John 3:13-18  

Do not be amazed, [then,] brothers, if the world hates you. 14We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. Whoever does not love remains in death. 15Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him. 16The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? 18Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.

 
Tradition  

Developing countries, where the most important reserves of the biosphere are found, continue to fuel the development of richer countries at the cost of their own present and future. The land of the southern poor is rich and mostly unpolluted, yet access to ownership of goods and resources for meeting vital needs is inhibited by a system of commercial relations and ownership which is structurally perverse. . . . As the United States bishops have said, greater attention must be given to “the needs of the poor, the weak and the vulnerable, in a debate often dominated by more powerful interests.” We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family. There are no frontiers or barriers, political or social, behind which we can hide, still less is there room for the globalization of indifference. (Pope Francis, On Care for Our Common Home [Laudato Si’. . . ],no. 52, quoting United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence and the Common Good)

In the present condition of global society, where injustices abound and growing numbers of people are deprived of basic human rights and considered expendable, the principle of the common good immediately becomes, logically and inevitably, a summons to solidarity and a preferential option for the poorest of our brothers and sisters. This option entails recognizing the implications of the universal destination of the world’s goods, but, as I mentioned in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, it demands before all else an appreciation of the immense dignity of the poor in the light of our deepest convictions as believers. We need only look around us to see that, today, this option is in fact an ethical imperative essential for effectively attaining the common good. (Pope Francis, On Care for Our Common Home [Laudato Si. . . ‘], no. 158)

To love someone is to desire that person’s good and to take effective steps to secure it.  Besides the good of the individual, there is the good that is linked to living in society: the common good.  It is the good of “all of us,” made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society.  … To desire the common good and strive towards it is a requirement of justice and charity. (Pope Benedict XVI, Charity in Truth [Caritas in Veritate. . . ], no. 7)

It is good for people to realize that purchasing is always a moral — and not simply economic — act. Hence the consumer has a specific social responsibility, which goes hand-in-hand with the social responsibility of the enterprise. Consumers should be continually educated regarding their daily role, which can be exercised with respect for moral principles without diminishing the intrinsic economic rationality of the act of purchasing… It can be helpful to promote new ways of marketing products from deprived areas of the world, so as to guarantee their producers a decent return. (Pope Benedict XVI, Charity in Truth [Caritas in Veritate. . . ], no. 66)

At another level, the roots of the  contradiction between the solemn affirmation of human rights and their tragic denial in practice lies in a notion of freedom which exalts the isolated individual in an absolute way, and gives no place to solidarity, to openness to others and service of them. . . It is precisely in this sense that Cain’s answer to the Lord’s question: “Where is Abel your brother?” can be interpreted: “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9).  Yes, every man is his “brother’s keeper,” because God entrusts us to one another. (St. John Paul II, The Gospel of Life [Evangelium Vitae. . . ], no. 19)

[Solidarity] is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all. (St. John Paul II, On Social Concern [Sollicitudo rei Socialis. . . ], no. 38)

Interdependence must be transformed into solidarity, based upon the principle that the goods of creation are meant for all. That which human industry produces through the processing of raw materials, with the contribution of work, must serve equally for the good of all. (St. John Paul II, On Social Concern [Sollicitudo rei Socialis. . . ], no. 39)

We have to move from our devotion to independence, through an understanding of interdependence, to a commitment to human solidarity. That challenge must find its realization in the kind of community we build among us. Love implies  concern for all – especially the poor – and a continued search for those social  and economic structures that permit everyone to share in a community that is a  part of a redeemed creation (Rom 8:21-23). (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, no. 365)

The solidarity which binds all men together as members of a common family makes it impossible for wealthy nations to look with indifference upon the hunger, misery and poverty of other nations whose citizens are unable to enjoy even elementary human rights. The nations of the world are becoming more and more dependent on one another and it will not be possible to preserve a lasting peace so long as glaring economic and social imbalances persist. (St. John XXIII, On Christianity and Social Progress [Mater et Magistra. . . ], no. 157)

The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers

 Week 5 The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers  Comments Off on The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
Oct 242017
 

The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected–the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.

Scripture

God rests on the seventh day.

Genesis 2:1-3

1Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed. 2 On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. 3God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.

God settles man in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and care for it.

Genesis 2:15

15The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. 

The Sabbath is for everyone; all are allowed to rest from their work.

Deuteronomy 5:13-15 

13Six days you may labor and do all your work, 14but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God. You shall not do any work, either you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your ox or donkey or any work animal, or the resident alien within your gates, so that your male and female slave may rest as you do. 15Remember that you too were once slaves in the land of Egypt, and the LORD, your God, brought you out from there with a strong hand and outstretched arm. That is why the LORD, your God, has commanded you to observe the sabbath day.         

Do not withhold wages from your workers, for their livelihood depends on them.

Deuteronomy 24:14-15

14 You shall not exploit a poor and needy hired servant, whether one of your own kindred or one of the resident aliens who live in your land, within your gates. 15On each day you shall pay the servant’s wages before the sun goes down, since the servant is poor and is counting on them. Otherwise the servant will cry to the LORD against you, and you will be held guilty.

To deprive an employee of wages is to commit murder.

Sirach 34:25-27

25The bread of charity is life itself for the needy; whoever withholds it is a murderer.  26To take away a neighbor’s living is to commit murder; 27 to deny a laborer wages is to shed blood.

 

Woe to him who treats his workers unjustly

Jeremiah 22:13

13Woe to him who builds his house on wrongdoing, his roof-chambers on injustice; who works his neighbors without pay, and gives them no wages.

All workers should be paid a just and living wage.

Matthew 20:1-16

“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3Going out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’ 5So they went off. [And] he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise. 6Going out about five o’clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’ 8 When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ 9When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage. 10So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. 11And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, 12saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’ 13He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14 Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? 15[Or] am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

The Sabbath was made for people, not people  for the Sabbath.

Mark 2:27

27Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

Practice integrity in your work.

Luke 3:10-14

10And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” 11He said to them in reply, “Whoever has two tunics should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” 12Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13He answered them, “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.” 14Soldiers also asked him, “And what is it that we should do?” He told them, “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.”

One’s worth is not determined by an abundance of possessions.

Luke 12:13-21

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” 14He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” 15Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” 16Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. 17He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ 18And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods 19 and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’ 20But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ 21Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”

Those who become rich by abusing their workers have sinned against God.

James 5:1-6

1Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries. 2Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, 3your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh like a fire. You have stored up treasure for the last days. 4Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter. 6You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous one; he offers you no resistance.     

Tradition  

Work should be the setting for this rich personal growth, where many aspects of life enter into play: creativity, planning for the future, developing our talents, living out our values, relating to others, giving glory to God. It follows that, in the reality of today’s global society, it is essential that “we continue to prioritize the goal of access to steady employment for everyone,” no matter the limited interests of business and dubious economic reasoning. We were created with a vocation to work. The goal should not be that technological progress increasingly replaces human work, for this would be detrimental to humanity. Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfillment. Helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work. (Pope Francis, On Care for Our Common Home [Laudato Si. . . ‘], nos. 127-28)

Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programs, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality. I am far from proposing an irresponsible populism, but the economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new poison, such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded.” (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel [Evangelii Gaudium. . . ], no. 204) I would like to remind everyone, especially governments engaged in boosting the world’s economic and social assets, that the primary capital to be safeguarded and valued is man, the  human person in his or her integrity: “Man is the source, the focus and the  aim of all economic and social life.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Charity  in Truth [Caritas in Veritate. . . ], no. 25, quoting Second Vatican Council, The Church in the Modern World [Gaudium et Spes. . . ], no. 63)

The economic sphere is neither ethically neutral, or inherently inhuman or opposed to society. It is part and parcel of human activity and precisely because it is human, it must be structured and governed in an ethical manner. (Pope Benedict XVI, Charity in Truth [Caritas in Veritate. . . ], no. 36)

In many cases, poverty results from a violation  of the dignity of human work, either because work opportunities are limited  (through unemployment or underemployment), or “because a low value is put on  work and the rights that flow from it, especially the right to a just wage and  to the personal security of the worker and his or her family.”  (Pope Benedict XVI, Charity in Truth [Caritas in Veritate. . . ], no. 63)

…those whom fortune favors are warned that riches do not bring freedom from sorrow and are of no avail for eternal happiness, but rather are obstacles; that the rich should tremble at the threatenings of Jesus Christ—threatenings so unwonted in the mouth of our Lord and that a most strict account must be given to the Supreme Judge for all we possess.(Pope Leo XIII Rerum novarum (from its first two words, Latin for “of revolutionary change”), or Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor, par. 22)

The obligation to earn one’s bread by the sweat of one’s brow also presumes the right to do so. A society in which this right is systematically denied, in which economic policies do not allow workers to reach satisfactory levels of employment, cannot be justified from an ethical point of view, nor can that society attain social peace. (St. John Paul II, The Hundredth Year [Centesimus  Annus. . . ], no. 43)

All people have the right to economic initiative, to productive work, to just wages and benefits, to decent working conditions, as well as to organize and join unions or other associations. (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, A Catholic Framework for Economic Life, no. 5)

Work is, as has been said, an obligation, that is to say, a duty, on the part of man. . . Man must work, both because the Creator has commanded it and because of his own humanity, which requires work in order to be maintained and developed. Man must work out of regard for others, especially his own family, but also for the society he belongs to, the country of which he is a child, and the whole human family of which he is a member, since he is the heir to the work of generations and at the same time a sharer in building the future of those who will come after him in the succession of history. (St. John Paul II, On Human Work [Laborem Exercens]. . . , no. 16)      Work is a good thing for man-a good thing for his humanity-because through work man not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but he also achieves fulfillment as a human being and indeed, in a sense, becomes “more a human being.” (St. John Paul II, On Human Work [Laborem Exercens. . . ], no. 9)      All these rights, together with the need for the workers themselves to secure them, give rise to yet another right: the right of association, that is to form associations for the purpose of defending the vital interests of those employed in the various professions. These associations are called labor or trade unions. (St. John Paul II, On Human Work [Laborem Exercens. . . ], no. 20)      As the Church solemnly reaffirmed in the recent Council, “the beginning, the subject and the goal of all social institutions is and must be the human person.”   All people have the right to work, to a chance to develop their qualities and their personalities in the exercise of their professions, to equitable remuneration which will enable them and their families “to lead a worthy life on the material, social, cultural and spiritual level” and to assistance in case of need arising from sickness or age. (Blessed Paul VI, A Call to Action [Octogesima Adveniens. . . ], no. 14)

 

Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

 Week 4 Option for the Poor and Vulnerable  Comments Off on Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
Oct 172017
 

A basic moral position in our society is demonstrated by how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, progressive (liberal) and conservative, secular and religious, (etc.) our Catholic Faith emphasizes the importance of the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46)  and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.

Scripture

You shall not oppress the poor or vulnerable.   God will hear their cry.

Exodus 22:20-26

20You shall not oppress or afflict a resident alien, for you were once aliens residing in the land of Egypt. 21You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. 22If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely listen to their cry. 23My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword; then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans. 24 If you lend money to my people, the poor among you, you must not be like a money lender; you must not demand interest from them. 25Ifyou take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you shall return it to him before sunset; 26for this is his only covering; it is the cloak for his body. What will he sleep in? If he cries out to me, I will listen; for I am compassionate.

A portion of the harvest is set aside for the poor and the stranger.

Leviticus 19:9-10

9 When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not be so thorough that you reap the field to its very edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10Likewise, you shall not pick your vineyard bare, nor gather up the grapes that have fallen. These things you shall leave for the poor and the alien. I, the LORD, am your God

Speak out in defense of the poor.

Proverbs 31:8-9

8Open your mouth in behalf of the mute, and for the rights of the destitute; 9Open your mouth, judge justly, defend the needy and the poor!

Don’t delay giving to those in need.

Sirach 4:1-10

My child, do not mock the life of the poor; do not keep needy eyes waiting. 2Do not grieve the hungry, nor anger the needy. 3Do not aggravate a heart already angry, nor delay giving to the needy. 4A beggar’s request do not reject; do not turn your face away from the poor.5From the needy do not turn your eyes; do not give them reason to curse you. 6If in their pain they cry out bitterly, their Rock will hear the sound of their cry. 7Endear yourself to the assembly; before the city’s ruler bow your head. 8Give a hearing to the poor, and return their greeting with deference; 9Deliver the oppressed from their oppressors, right judgment should not be repugnant to you. 10Be like a father to orphans, and take the place of a husband to widows. Then God will call you his child, and he will be merciful to you and deliver you from the pit.

True worship is to work for justice and care for the poor and oppressed.

Isaiah 58:5-7

5Is this the manner of fasting I would choose, a day to afflict oneself? To bow one’s head like a reed, and lie upon sackcloth and ashes? Is this what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? 6Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking off every yoke? 7Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry, bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own flesh?

Just as you did it to the least of these, you did it for Jesus.

Matthew 25: 31-46

31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, 32 and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ 40 And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ 44 Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ 45He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ 46 And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Blessed are the poor, theirs is the kingdom of God.

Luke 6:20-23

20 And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. 21Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. 22Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. 23Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.

How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s good and sees one in need and refuses to help?.

1 John 3:17-18

17If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? 18Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.

 

Tradition  

God’s word teaches that our brothers and sisters are the prolongation of the incarnation for each of us: “As you did it to one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). The way we treat others has a transcendent dimension: “The measure you give will be the measure you get” (Mt 7:2). It corresponds to the mercy which God has shown us: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you . . . For the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (Lk 6:36-38). What these passages make clear is the absolute priority of “going forth from ourselves toward our brothers and sisters” as one of the two great commandments which ground every moral norm and as the clearest sign for discerning spiritual growth in response to God’s completely free gift. (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel [Evangelii Gaudium. . . ], no. 179)

“The Church’s love for the poor . . . is a part of her constant tradition.” This love is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, of the poverty of Jesus, and of his concern for the poor. . . . “Those who are oppressed by poverty are the object of a preferential love on the part of the Church which, since her origin and in spite of the failings of many of her members, has not ceased to work for their relief, defense, and liberation.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church. . . , nos. 2444, 2448, quoting Centisimus annus, no. 57, and Libertatis conscientia, no. 68)

Love for others, and in the first place love for the poor, in whom the Church sees Christ himself, is made concrete in the promotion of justice. (St. John Paul II, On the Hundredth Year [Centesimus Annus. . . ], no. 58)      The obligation to provide justice for all means that the poor have the single most urgent economic claim on the conscience of the nation. (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, no. 86)      The primary purpose of this special commitment to the poor is to enable them to become active participants in the life of society. It is to enable all persons to share in and contribute to the common good. The “option for the poor,” therefore, is not an adversarial slogan that pits one group or class against another. Rather it states that the deprivation and powerlessness of the poor wounds the whole community. The extent of their suffering is a measure of how far we are from being a true community of persons. These wounds will be healed only by greater solidarity with the poor and among the poor themselves. (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, no. 88)

The needs of the poor take priority over the desires of the rich; the rights of workers over the maximization of profits; the preservation of the environment over uncontrolled industrial expansion; the production to meet social needs over production for military purposes. (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, no. 94)      In teaching us charity, the Gospel instructs us in the preferential respect due to the poor and the special situation they have in society: the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others. (Blessed Paul VI, A Call to Action [Octogesima Adveniens. . . ], no. 23)      “He who has the goods of this world and sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how does the love of  God abide in him?”  Everyone knows that the Fathers of the Church laid down the duty of the rich toward the poor in no uncertain terms. As St. Ambrose put it: “You are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. You have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the common use of everyone. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich.” (Blessed Paul VI, On the Development of Peoples [Populorum Progressio. . . ], no. 23)      Therefore everyone has the right to possess a sufficient amount of the earth’s goods for themselves and their family. This has been the opinion of the Fathers and Doctors of the church, who taught that people are bound to come to the aid of the poor and to do so not merely out of their superfluous goods. Persons in extreme necessity are entitled to take what they need from the riches of others.         Faced with a world today where so many people are suffering from want, the council asks individuals and governments to remember the saying of the Fathers:  “Feed the people dying of hunger, because if you do not feed them you are killing them,” and it urges them according to their ability to share and dispose of their goods to help others, above all by giving them aid which will enable them to help and develop themselves. (Second Vatican Council, The Church in the Modern World [Gaudium et Spes. . . ], no. 69)

Still, when there is a question of defending the rights of individuals, the poor and badly off have a claim to especial consideration. The richer class have many ways of shielding themselves, and stand less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of  the poor have no resources of their own to fall back upon, and must chiefly depend upon the assistance of the State. (Pope Leo XIII, On the Condition of Labor [Rerum Novarum. . . ], no. 37)

 

Rights and Responsibilities

 Week 3 Rights and Responsibilities  Comments Off on Rights and Responsibilities
Oct 102017
 

The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities: to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.

Scripture

When a family member is reduced to poverty, we have an obligation to help.

Leviticus 25:35

35When one of your kindred is reduced to poverty and becomes indebted to you, you shall support that person like a resident alien; let your kindred live with you.

Give from what you have received and do not turn away from the poor.

Tobit 4:5-11

5“Through all your days, son, keep the Lord in mind, and do not seek to sin or to transgress the commandments. Perform righteous deeds all the days of your life, and do not tread the paths of wickedness. 6 For those who act with fidelity, all who practice righteousness, will prosper in their affairs. 7 “Give alms from your possessions. Do not turn your face away from any of the poor, so that God’s face will not be turned away from you. 8Give in proportion to what you own. If you have great wealth, give alms out of your abundance; if you have but little, do not be afraid to give alms even of that little. 9You will be storing up a goodly treasure for yourself against the day of adversity. 10For almsgiving delivers from death and keeps one from entering into Darkness. 11Almsgiving is a worthy offering in the sight of the Most High for all who practice it.

Seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.

Isaiah 1:16-20

16Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; 17learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow. 18Come now, let us set things right, says the LORD:  Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; Though they be red like crimson, they may become white as wool. 19If you are willing, and obey, you shall eat the good things of the land; 20But if you refuse and resist, you shall be eaten by the sword: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken!

A legitimate government upholds the rights of the poor and vulnerable.

Jeremiah 22:13-16

13Woe to him who builds his house on wrongdoing, his roof-chambers on injustice; Who works his neighbors without pay, and gives them no wages. 14Who says, “I will build myself a spacious house, with airy rooms,” Who cuts out windows for it, panels it with cedar, and paints it with vermilion. 15Must you prove your rank among kings by competing with them in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink, And act justly and righteously?  Then he prospered. 16Because he dispensed justice to the weak and the poor, he prospered. Is this not to know me?—oracle of the LORD.

Seek the welfare of the city, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Jeremiah 29:4-7           4Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their fruits. 6Take wives and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters. Increase there; do not decrease. 7Seek the welfare of the city to which I have exiled you; pray for it to the LORD, for upon its welfare your own depends.

Just as you did it to the least of these, you did it to me.

Matthew 25:31-46         31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, 32 and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ 40 And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ 44 Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ 45He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ 46 And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

The rich man has a responsibility to care for Lazarus.

Luke 16:19-31

19“There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. 20And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. 22When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, 23and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’ 25Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. 26Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’ 27He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, 28for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’ 29But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ 30 He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’”

God’s gifts are  given to be shared.

2 Corinthians 9:6-15

6Consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work. 9As it is written: “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 10The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness.   11You are being enriched in every way for all generosity, which through us produces thanksgiving to God, 12for the administration of this public service is not only supplying the needs of the holy ones but is also overflowing in many acts of thanksgiving to God. 13Through the evidence of this service, you are glorifying God for your obedient confession of the gospel of Christ and the generosity of your contribution to them and to all others, 14while in prayer on your behalf they long for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Faith without works is dead.

James 2:14-18

14What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? 17So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18Indeed someone may say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.

 

Tradition  

Underlying the principle of the common good is respect for the human person as such, endowed with basic and inalienable rights ordered to his or her integral development. It has also to do with the overall welfare of society and the development of a variety of intermediate groups, applying the principle of subsidiarity. Outstanding among those groups is the family, as the basic cell of society. Finally, the common good calls for social peace, the stability and security provided by a certain order which cannot be achieved without particular concern for distributive justice; whenever this is violated, violence always ensues. Society as a whole, and the state in particular, are obliged to defend and promote the common good. (Pope Francis, On Care for Our Common Home [Laudato Si’. . . ], no. 157) Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited. For example, changes in climate, to which animals and plants cannot adapt, lead them to migrate; this in turn affects the livelihood of the poor, who are then forced to leave their homes, with great uncertainty for their future and that of their children. There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. . . . Our lack of response to these tragedies involving our brothers and sisters points to the loss of that sense of responsibility for our fellow men and women upon which all civil society is founded. (Pope Francis, On Care for Our Common Home [Laudato Si. . . ‘], no. 25)

A link has often been noted between claims to a “right to excess”, and even to transgression and vice, within affluent societies, and the lack of food, drinkable water, basic instruction and elementary health care in areas of the underdeveloped world and on the outskirts of large metropolitan centers. The link consists in this: individual rights, when detached from a framework of duties which grants them their full meaning, can run wild, leading to an escalation of demands which is effectively unlimited and indiscriminate. (Pope Benedict XVI, Charity in Truth, [Caritas in Veritate. . . ], no. 43)

The inviolability of the person which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, finds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. Above all, the common outcry, which  is justly made on behalf of human rights, for example, the right to health, to  home, to work, to family, to culture, is false and illusory if the right to  life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other  personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination. (St. John Paul II, On the Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful [Christifideles Laici. . . ], no. 38)      We must speak of man’s rights. Man has the right to live.  He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. In consequence, he has the right to  be looked after in the event of ill health; disability stemming from his work;  widowhood; old age; enforced unemployment; or whenever through no fault of his  own he is deprived of the means of livelihood. (St. John XXIII, Peace on Earth [Pacem in Terris. . . ], no. 11)   In human society one man’s natural right gives rise to a  corresponding duty in other men; the duty, that is, of recognizing and  respecting that right. Every basic human right draws its authoritative force from the natural law, which confers it and attaches to it its respective duty.  Hence, to claim one’s rights and ignore one’s duties, or only half fulfill  them, is like building a house with one hand and tearing it down with the  other. (St. John XXIII, Peace on Earth [Pacem in Terris. . . ], no. 30) As for the State . . . It has also the duty to protect the rights of all its  people, and particularly of its weaker members, the workers, women and  children. It can never be right for the State to shirk its obligation of working actively for the betterment of the condition of the working man. (St. John XXIII, Christianity and Social Progress (Mater et Magistra. . . ), no. 20)

 

Call to Family, Community, and participation

 Week 2 Call to Family, Community, and Participation  Comments Off on Call to Family, Community, and participation
Oct 032017
 

The person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society—in economics and politics, in law and policy—directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community.  Marriage and the family are the central social institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. [Think the “Domestic Church.”]

We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable. 

Scripture

It is not good for man to be alone

Genesis 2:18

18The LORD God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him.

Genesis 4:3-15

I am my brother’s and sister’s keeper

In the course of time Cain brought an offering to the LORD from the fruit of the ground, 4while Abel, for his part, brought the fatty portion of the firstlings of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and dejected. 6Then the LORD said to Cain: Why are you angry? Why are you dejected? 7If you act rightly, you will be accepted; but if not, sin lies in wait at the door: its urge is for you, yet you can rule over it.

8Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out in the field.” When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. 9Then he LORD asked Cain, Where is your brother Abel? He answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10God then said: What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! 11Now you are banned from the ground that opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12If you till the ground, it shall no longer give you its produce. You shall become a constant wanderer on the earth. 13Cain said to the LORD: “My punishment is too great to bear. 14Look, you have now banished me from the ground. I must avoid you and be a constant wanderer on the earth. Anyone may kill me at sight.” 15Not so! the LORD said to him. If anyone kills Cain, Cain shall be avenged seven times. So the LORD put a mark on Cain, so that no one would kill him at sight.

If you act justly with one another, God will dwell in the land.

Jeremiah 7:5-7 Only if you thoroughly reform your ways and your deeds; if each of you deals justly with your neighbor; 6if you no longer oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow; if you no longer shed innocent blood in this place or follow after other gods to your own harm, 7only then will I let you continue to dwell in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors long ago and forever.

Act justly, love kindness, walk humbly with God.

Micah 6:6-8    

6 With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow before God most high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with myriad streams of oil?  Shall I give my firstborn for my crime, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  8 You have been told, O mortal, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.

This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.

John 15:12-17 15I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. 16It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. 17This I command you: love one another.      

Life among the believers.

Acts 2:43-47 42 They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. 43Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. 46Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, 47praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

We are one body, individually members one of another.

Romans 12:4-8 4 For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; 7if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching; 8if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Rouse one another to love and good works.

Hebrews 10:24-25   24We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works. 25We should not stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some, but encourage one another, and this all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Our faith is dead if we ignore others in need.

James 2:14-18

14What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? 17So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18Indeed someone may say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.

We ought to lay down our lives for one another.

1 John 3:16-18 16The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? 18Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.

Those who love God must love their brothers and sisters.

1 John 4:19-21 19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 

Tradition  

*Family

“The family is thus an agent of pastoral activity through its explicit proclamation of the Gospel and its legacy of varied forms of witness, namely solidarity with the poor, openness to a diversity of people, the protection of creation, moral and material solidarity with other families, including those most in need, commitment to the promotion of the common good and the transformation of unjust social structures, beginning in the territory in which the family lives, through the practice of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.” (Pope Francis, On Love in the Family [Amoris Laetitia. . . ], no. 290, quoting the Final Report of the Synod of Bishops, 10/24/15)

Economic and social policies as well as organization of the work world should be continually evaluated in light of their impact on the strength and stability of family life. The long-range future of this nation is intimately linked with the well-being of families, for the family is the most basic form of human community.  Efficiency and competition in the marketplace must be moderated by greater concern for the way work schedules and compensation support or threaten the bonds between spouses and between parents and children. (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, no. 93)

The first and fundamental structure for a “human  ecology” is the family . . . founded on marriage, in which the  mutual gift of self as husband and wife creates an environment in which  children can be born and develop their potentialities, become aware of their  dignity and prepare to face their unique and individual destiny. (St. John Paul II, On the Hundredth Year [Centesimus Annus. . . ], no. 39)

Insofar as it is a “small-scale Church,”[AKA “the Domestic Church”] the Christian family is called upon, like the “large-scale Church,” to be a sign of unity for the world and in this way to exercise its prophetic role by bearing witness to the Kingdom and peace of Christ, towards which the whole world is journeying. Christian families can do this through their educational activity, that is to say by presenting to their children a model of life based on the values of truth, freedom, justice and love-both through active and responsible involvement in the authentically human growth of society and its institutions, and by supporting in various ways the associations specifically devoted to international issues. (St. John Paul II, The Family in the Modern World [Familiaris Consortio. . . ], no. 48)

Community/Participation

Local individuals and groups can make a real difference. They are able to instill a greater sense of responsibility, a strong sense of community, a readiness to protect others, a spirit of creativity and a deep love for the land. . . . Social problems must be addressed by community networks and not simply by the sum of individual good deeds. (Pope Francis, On Care for Our Common Home [Laudato Si. . . ’], nos. 179, 219) People in every nation enhance the social dimension of their lives by acting as committed and responsible citizens, not as a mob swayed by the powers that be. Let us not forget that “responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation.” (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel [Evangelii Gaudium. . . ], no. 220, quoting United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, Nov. 2007, no. 13) Subsidiarity respects personal dignity by recognizing in the person a subject who is always capable of giving something to others.  (Pope Benedict XVI, Charity in Truth [Caritas in Veritate. . . ], no. 57)      The primary norm for determining the scope and limits of governmental intervention is the ”principle of subsidiarity” cited above. This principle states that, in order to protect basic justice, government should undertake only those initiatives which exceed the capacities of individuals or private groups acting independently. Government should not replace or destroy smaller communities and individual initiative. Rather it should help them contribute more effectively to social well-being and supplement their activity when the demands of justice exceed their capacities. This does not mean, however, that the government that governs least governs best. Rather it defines good government intervention as that which truly “helps” other social groups contribute to the common good by directing, urging, restraining, and regulating economic activity as ”the occasion requires and necessity demands”.  (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, no. 124) In order that the right to development may be fulfilled by action:  (a) people should not be hindered from attaining development in accordance with  their own culture; (b) through mutual cooperation, all peoples should be able  to become the principal architects of their own economic and social  development. (World Synod of Catholic Bishops, Justice in the World [Justica in Mundo. . . ], no. 71) But God did not create man as a solitary, for from the beginning “male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27). Their companionship produces the primary form of interpersonal communion. For by his innermost nature man is a social being and unless he relates himself to others he can neither live nor develop his potential. (Second Vatican Council, The Church in the Modern World [Gaudium et Spes. . . ], no. 12)

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*What you own belongs to the Lord and is given for the good of all.

Leviticus 25:23-43 23The land shall not be sold irrevocably; for the land is mine, and you are but resident aliens and under my authority. 24Therefore, in every part of the country that you occupy, you must permit the land to be redeemed. 25When one of your kindred is reduced to poverty and has to sell some property, that person’s closest relative, who has the duty to redeem it, shall come and redeem what the relative has sold. 26If, however, the person has no relative to redeem it, but later on acquires sufficient means to redeem it, 27the person shall calculate the years since the sale, return the balance to the one to whom it was sold, and thus regain the property.28But if the person does not acquire sufficient means to buy back the land, what was sold shall remain in the possession of the purchaser until the year of the jubilee, when it must be released and returned to the original owner. 29 When someone sells a dwelling in a walled town, it can be redeemed up to a full year after its sale—the redemption period is one year. 30But if such a house in a walled town has not been redeemed at the end of a full year, it shall belong irrevocably to the purchaser throughout the generations; it shall not be released in the jubilee. 31However, houses in villages that are not encircled by walls shall be reckoned as part of the surrounding farm land; they may be redeemed, and in the jubilee they must be released. 32 In levitical cities the Levites shall always have the right to redeem the houses in the cities that are in their possession. 33As for levitical property that goes unredeemed—houses sold in cities of their possession shall be released in the jubilee; for the houses in levitical cities are their possession in the midst of the Israelites. 34Moreover, the pasture land belonging to their cities shall not be sold at all; it must always remain their possession. 35When one of your kindred is reduced to poverty and becomes indebted to you, you shall support that person like a resident alien; let your kindred live with you. 36Do not exact interest in advance or accrued interest,* but out of fear of God let your kindred live with you. 37 Do not give your money at interest or your food at a profit. 38I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.

39 When your kindred with you, having been so reduced to poverty, sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves. 40Rather, let them be like laborers or like your tenants, working with you until the jubilee year, 41when, together with any children, they shall be released from your service and return to their family and to their ancestral property. 42Since they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt, they shall not sell themselves as slaves are sold. 43Do not lord it over them harshly, but stand in fear of your God.

 

 

Week 1 Introduction and Life and Dignity of the Human person

 Week 1 Introduction and Life and Dignity of the Human Person  Comments Off on Week 1 Introduction and Life and Dignity of the Human person
Sep 262017
 

Introduction

 

The Church’s social teaching is a rich treasury of wisdom about promoting justice and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society. Catholic social teaching has been articulated through a tradition of papal, conciliar, and episcopal documents. (“Papal” means from a Pope, “conciliar” means from a Church Council and “Episcopal” means from a Bishop or a group of Bishops.)

Each week there will be a brief presentation of portions of several of these documents, but if you are interested in more information, most of them can be found online in their entirety. In these weekly reflections, we will highlight key themes that are at the heart of our Catholic social tradition. We will also read various passages of scripture to verify and support these teachings on social justice.

Schedule:

Sept. 26: Life and Dignity of the Human Person

Oct. 3: Call to Family, Community, and Participation

Oct. 10: Rights and Responsibilities

Oct. 17: Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

Oct. 24: The Dignity of Work and the Right of Workers

Oct. 31: Solidarity

Nov. 7: Care for God’s Creation

Life and Dignity of the Human Person

The Catholic Church proclaims that human life from conception to natural death is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. In our society, human life is under direct attack from abortion, doctor assisted suicide and euthanasia. The value of human life is being threatened by cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and the use of the death penalty. The intentional targeting of civilians in war or terrorist attacks is always wrong. Catholic teaching also calls on us to work to avoid war. Nations must protect the right to life by finding increasingly effective ways to prevent conflicts and resolve them by peaceful means. The Church teaches that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.

Scripture

God created man and woman in his image

Genesis 1:26-31

Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth. 27God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

28God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth. 29 God also said: See, I give you every seed-bearing plant on all the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; 30and to all the wild animals, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the earth, I give all the green plants for food. And so it happened. 31God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed—the sixth day.

Catechism #355 “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.” Man occupies a unique place in creation: (I) he is “in the image of God”; (II) in his own nature he unites the spiritual and material worlds; (III) he is created “male and female”; (IV) God established him in his friendship.

God loves the orphan, the widow, the stranger and the immigrant.

Deuteronomy 10:17-19

17 For the LORD, your God, is the God of gods, the Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who has no favorites, accepts no bribes, 18 who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and loves the resident alien, giving them food and clothing. 19 So you too should love the resident alien, for that is what you were in the land of Egypt. 

God formed each of us and knows us intimately.      

Psalms 139:13-16

13You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know. 15My bones are not hidden from you, When I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth. 16our eyes saw me unformed; in your book all are written down, my days were shaped, before one came to be.

The Lord is the maker of both rich and poor.

Proverbs 22:2

2Rich and poor have a common bond: the LORD is the maker of them all.

The good Samaritan recognized the dignity in the other and cared for his life.

Luke 10:25-37

25 There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” 27He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” 29But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. 32Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. 33But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. 34He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ 36Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” 37He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Love one another, contribute to the needs of others, live peaceably with all.

Romans 12: 9-18

9Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; 10love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. 11Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute [you], bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all. 18If possible, on your part, live at peace with all.

You are holy, for you are God’s temple and God dwells in you.

1 Corinthians 3:16

16Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

All Christians are one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:27-28

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Honor the poor.

James 2:1-8

1My brothers, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. 2For if a man with gold rings on his fingers and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here, please,” while you say to the poor one, “Stand there,” or “Sit at my feet,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs? 5Listen, my beloved brothers. Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him? 6But you dishonored the poor person. Are not the rich oppressing you? And do they themselves not haul you off to court? 7Is it not they who blaspheme the noble name that was invoked over you? 8However, if you fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.

See what love the Father has for us, that we should be called Children of God.

1 John 3: 1-2 1 See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Let us love one another because love is from God.

1 John 4:7-12

7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. 8Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. 9In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. 10In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. 12No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.

 

Tradition  

When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected. (Pope Francis, On Care for Our Common Home [‘Laudato Si’. . .], no. 117)

Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape. Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised, they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers.” (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel [Evangelii Gaudium. . . ], no. 153)

The dignity of the individual and the demands of justice require, particularly today, that economic choices do not cause disparities in wealth to increase in an excessive and morally unacceptable manner. (Pope Benedict XVI, Charity in Truth [Caritas in Veritate. . . ], no. 32)

Human persons are willed by God; they are imprinted with God’s image. Their dignity does not come from the work they do, but from the persons they are. (St. John Paul II, On the Hundredth Year [. . . Centesimus annus]. . . , no. 11)

The basis for all that the Church believes about the moral dimensions of economic life is its vision of the transcendent worth — the sacredness — of human beings. The dignity of the human person, realized in community with others, is the criterion against which all aspects of economic life must be measured.

All human beings, therefore, are ends to be served by the institutions that make up the economy, not means to be exploited for more narrowly defined goals. Human personhood must be respected with a reverence that is religious. When we deal with each other, we should do so with the sense of awe that arises in the presence of something holy and sacred. For that is what human beings are: we are created in the image of God (Gn 1:27). (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, no. 28)

Every individual, precisely by reason of the mystery of the Word of God who was made flesh (cf. Jn 1:14), is entrusted to the maternal care of the Church. Therefore every threat to human dignity and life must necessarily be felt in the Church’s very heart; it cannot but affect her at the core of her faith in the Redemptive Incarnation of the Son of God,  and engage her in her mission of proclaiming the Gospel of life in all the  world and to every creature (cf. Mk 16:15). (St. John Paul II, The  Gospel of Life [. . . Evangelium vitae. . . ], no. 3)

As explicitly formulated, the precept “You shall not kill” is strongly negative: it indicates the extreme limit which can never be exceeded. Implicitly, however, it encourages a positive attitude of absolute  respect for life; it leads to the promotion of life and to progress along the  way of a love which gives, receives and serves. (St. John Paul II, The Gospel of Life [Evangelium vitae. . . ],no. 54)

This teaching rests on one basic principle:  individual human beings are the foundation, the cause and the end of every social institution. That is necessarily so, for men are by nature social beings. (St. John XXIII, Mother and Teacher [. . . Mater et Magistra. . . ], no. 219)

There exist also sinful inequalities that affect millions of men and women. These are in open contradiction of the Gospel. Their equal  dignity as persons demands that we strive for fairer and more humane  conditions. Excessive economic and social disparity between individuals and peoples of the one human race is a source of scandal and militates against social justice, equity, human dignity, as well as social and international  peace. (Catechism of the Catholic Church. . . , no. 1938)

Whatever  insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children, as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are  infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. (Second Vatican Council, The Church in the Modern World [. . . Gaudium et Spes. . . ], no. 27)