Sunday, March 10, 2013

"Arrogant Scoundrels," "People Who Care," and Me

People behaving badly is nothing new. Neither are ideas like justice and mercy:
"Arrogant scoundrels pursue the poor; they trap them by their cunning schemes."

"Why should the wicked scorn God, say in their hearts, 'God doesn't care'?"

"But you do see; you do observe this misery and sorrow; you take the matter in hand. To you the helpless can entrust their cause; you are the defender of orphans."
(Psalms 10:2, 13-14)

"Slanderers will not survive on earth; evil will quickly entrap the violent.

"For I know the LORD will secure justice for the needy, their rights for the poor. "
(Psalms 140:12-13)

"The just man has a care for the rights of the poor; the wicked man has no such concern."
(Proverbs 29:7)
For good or ill, the stakes in how we treat others are about as high as it gets. (Matthew 25:40; Luke 19:27)

"Which is the first of all the commandments?"

When someone asked Jesus which commandment is the greatest, my Lord said we're supposed to love God, and love our neighbor. (Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12:29-31, Luke 10:25-30)

We're also supposed to see everybody as our neighbor. (Matthew 5:43-44, Luke 10:29-37)

Loving neighbors isn't, or shouldn't be, a safely vague interest. We're supposed to actually do something about what we believe:
"... Social concern must never be an abstract attitude. ..."
("Caritas in Veritate," 47)
I don't think it's reasonable to expect a perfect society, until God sorts out this creation: and that's another topic. But I'm also certain that we're not expected to sit around, doing nothing but thinking lovely thoughts.

"People Who Care"

I spent my youth in the '60s, when quite a few folks woke up from 'the American dream:' in a cold sweat, screaming. I knew enough of the 'good old days' that came before to realize that the gray flannel suit wouldn't fit me, and that's yet another topic.

Quite a few of my contemporaries were "people who care about strangers ... who care about evil and social injustice." We tried to correct long-standing social ills: and succeeded, to an extent.

A half-century later, I think we could have done better. But we could have done worse.

Social Justice

I've run into ideological goofiness that treated folks as if we're little more than interchangeable units in economic classes or ethic groups. That, in my considered opinion, is a bad idea. It's also contrary to what the Catholic Church says.

Each of us is an individual: a person, with a dignity that comes from God. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 357, 1700, 1929)

After a few decades of seeing "social justice" used as a label for some variation on 'oppressed proletariat' ideas, I'd gotten a bit tired of the phrase.

Then, to my considerable surprise, I found a section of the Catechism called "Social Justice." (Catechism, 1928-1942)

Social justice is an important part of what the Church teaches. It's what happens when we apply what Jesus said about loving God and loving our neighbor to the moment of history where we live.

Details change. Folks in the first century weren't concerned about Internet ethics, and I'm pretty sure that folks in the 31st century will deal with issues we haven't imagined: yet.



But the basics, like principles outlined in Luke 10:25-30? Those won't change.

Like I said last year:
"...I'm content to be 'out of step' with whatever philosophies are popular today. I think it's more important to be in step with my Lord. That's why I became a Catholic. I'm content to be part of the Church that's rooted in eternity, under the authority my Lord gave Peter,3 marching through time toward a city that hasn't been built yet...."
(April 1, 2012)
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