Sunday, December 15, 2013

Holiday Specials, Luke 10:37, and Making a Difference

It's the season for sappy sentiment, frenzied shopping, and tacky gifts.

This is also the time of year when holiday specials extol the virtues of being nice to each other and giving gifts. That's not quite 'the true meaning of Christmas,' but they're right: sort of.


The idea that how we treat others will affect how they treat us is ancient, and shared by many cultures. It's in the Code of Hammurabi and Exodus 20:12; and wisdom from Pittacus of Mytilene, Confucious, and Mozi.

Jesus outlined the principle of reciprocity in Matthew and Luke. We've been calling it the Golden Rule at least since the 18th century:
"6 'Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets."
(Matthew 7:12)

"Do to others as you would have them do to you."
(Luke 6:31)

Love, Law, and the Golden Rule.

"Law" and "love" sometimes seem incompatible in today's America. I think that comes partly from a control freak version of "law," loudly endorsed by the establishment of the day.

Some Americans yearn for a return to those 'good old days.' I don't. I remember the 'Happy Days' era wouldn't want to go back, even if we could: which we can't, and that's another topic. Topics.

When someone asked Jesus for the greatest commandment of the law, my Lord said: love God, love your neighbor. He went on to say:
"24 The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.' "
(Matthew 22:40)
On top of that, we're supposed to see everyone as our neighbor. (Matthew 5:43-44, 22:36-40; Mark 12:29-31; Luke 10:25-27, Luke 10:29-37; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1822, 1825)

Since the Golden Rule "is the law and the prophets," thinking that there's a connection between God's version of love and law probably isn't too much of a stretch.

Making a Difference: Or Trying

What Jesus said about the good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37 makes it obvious that my love for neighbors can't be safely abstract. I'm expected to actually do something about it.

Does that mean I'm personally responsible for ending world hunger, finding a cure for cancer, and uniting the world in brotherly love? I certainly hope not. I'm just one man, living near the center of the North American continent, with limited resources.

I could throw up my hands and despair: but that's a bad idea, and against the rules. So is presumption, and that's yet another topic. (Catechism, 2091)

Doing nothing isn't an option, either. What I can do — I'll get back to that.

Faith and Balance

After the good Samaritan, Luke shows us two sisters. (Luke 10:38-42)

One of them, Martha, was "burdened with much serving." The other, Mary, did nothing but listen to Jesus.

There's more going on here than a frazzled hostess asking for help, as the footnotes point out:
"The story of Martha and Mary further illustrates the importance of hearing the words of the teacher and the concern with women in Luke....

"... it is remarkable for first-century Palestinian Judaism that a woman would assume the posture of a disciple at the master's feet (see also ⇒ Luke 8:35; ⇒ Acts 22:3), and it reveals a characteristic attitude of Jesus toward women in this gospel (see ⇒ Luke 8:2-3)."
(Footnotes 13, 14, Luke 10, New American Bible.)
I've heard the story of Martha and Mary used an example of how we shouldn't get distracted by everyday concerns. I'll go along with that, but Jesus didn't tell Martha she was wrong. He said "...Mary has chosen the better part...." (Luke 10:42)

Maybe the idea is that we need a balance. James 2:14-19 makes it pretty clear that faith without works is "dead."

Doing Our Job: Two Millennia And Counting

Getting back to what I can do about ending world hunger, curing cancer, and achieving a lasting peace — realistically, not much.

But I can make a small difference. My wife and I support carefully-chosen charities. She occasionally volunteers for parish functions, and I do what I can for the local Knights of Columbus. What I write may do some good, too.

We're working on a job that started about two thousand years ago:
"11 Then Jesus approached and said to them, 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

"Go, therefore, 12 and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,

"teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. 13 And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.' "
(Matthew 28:18-20)
As I've said before, part of our job is making the world a better place. (Catechism 1928-1942)

It's slow work, and sometimes frustrating. But my guess is that we have a lot of time to work with: and will need every millennia of it.

Related posts:

No comments:

Like it? Pin it, Plus it, - - -

Pinterest: My Stuff, and More


Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store

Popular Posts

Label Cloud

1277 abortion ADD ADHD-Inattentive Adoration Chapel Advent Afghanistan Africa America Amoris Laetitia angels animals annulment Annunciation anti-catholicism Antichrist apocalyptic ideas apparitions archaeology architecture Arianism art Asperger syndrome assumptions asteroid astronomy Australia authority balance and moderation baptism being Catholic beliefs bias Bible Bible and Catechism bioethics biology blogs brain Brazil business Canada capital punishment Caritas in Veritate Catechism Catholic Church Catholic counter-culture Catholicism change happens charisms charity Chile China Christianity Christmas citizenship climate change climatology cloning comets common good common sense Communion community compassion confirmation conscience conversion Corpus Christi cosmology creation credibility crime crucifix Crucifixion Cuba culture dance dark night of the soul death depression designer babies despair detachment devotion discipline disease diversity divination Divine Mercy divorce Docetism domestic church dualism duty Easter economics education elections emotions England entertainment environmental issues Epiphany Establishment Clause ethics ethnicity Eucharist eugenics Europe evangelizing evolution exobiology exoplanets exorcism extremophiles faith faith and works family Father's Day Faust Faustus fear of the Lord fiction Final Judgment First Amendment forgiveness Fortnight For Freedom free will freedom fun genetics genocide geoengineering geology getting a grip global Gnosticism God God's will good judgment government gratitude great commission guest post guilt Haiti Halloween happiness hate health Heaven Hell HHS hierarchy history holidays Holy Family Holy See Holy Spirit holy water home schooling hope humility humor hypocrisy idolatry image of God images Immaculate Conception immigrants in the news Incarnation Independence Day India information technology Internet Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jesus John Paul II joy just war justice Kansas Kenya Knights of Columbus knowledge Korea language Last Judgment last things law learning Lent Lenten Chaplet life issues love magi magic Magisterium Manichaeism marriage martyrs Mary Mass materialism media medicine meditation Memorial Day mercy meteor meteorology Mexico Minnesota miracles Missouri moderation modesty Monophysitism Mother Teresa of Calcutta Mother's Day movies music Muslims myth natural law neighbor Nestorianism New Year's Eve New Zealand news Nietzsche obedience Oceania organization original sin paleontology parish Parousia penance penitence Pentecost Philippines physical disability physics pilgrimage politics Pope Pope in Germany 2011 population growth positive law poverty prayer predestination presumption pride priests prophets prostitution Providence Purgatory purpose quantum entanglement quotes reason redemption reflections relics religion religious freedom repentance Resurrection robots Roman Missal Third Edition rosaries rules sacramentals Sacraments Saints salvation schools science secondary causes SETI sex shrines sin slavery social justice solar planets soul South Sudan space aliens space exploration Spain spirituality stem cell research stereotypes stewardship stories storm Sudan suicide Sunday obligation superstition symbols technology temptation terraforming the establishment the human condition tolerance Tradition traffic Transfiguration Transubstantiation travel Trinity trust truth uncertainty United Kingdom universal destination of goods vacation Vatican Vatican II veneration vengeance Veterans Day videos virtue vlog vocations voting war warp drive theory wealth weather wisdom within reason work worship writing

Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.