Loving Your Idle Neighbor | Values & Capitalism

RJ Moeller

R.J. Moeller graduated from Taylor University in 2005 with a degree in business and is currently a…Read more about RJ Moeller

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted something in my “Bible & Economics” series, but I think a return to the topic is well served by the verses from II Thessalonians I’ve selected to delve in to today. This passage, more than perhaps any other in all of the New Testament, is responsible for directing a younger version of the R.J. Moeller that blogs before you today on a path leading sharply away from conventional modern thinking on the topics of welfare, wealth redistribution and the seemingly inescapable “social justice.” (By the way, is there “social truth” or “social patience”?)

From II Thessalonians 3:6-12:

Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

A simple, straight-forward reading of this text is a clear and present danger to advocates of a welfare state, but especially to those who also claim allegiance to the body of Christ and his word. However, in a sinful, fallen world—one wrought with hypocrisies, guilt, past societal sins, etc.—“simple” and “straight-forward” are luxuries the thoughtful believer can rarely enjoy, at least not when entering the contentious fray of the public square with their theological convictions in tow (as they most definitely should).

So let me quickly give my brief exegetical overview of the passage above, and then connect a few dots between what Paul wrote and some of the appropriate conclusions one ought to be able to draw in terms of public policy debates.

Now there are some who try to deflect the very real importance of these verses to a Christian’s attitude about how best to help the poor by saying that the “idlers” Paul is calling out are simply misguided believers who are under the impression Christ’s return was imminent. This is a distinction without a difference. Being lazy on a nuclear submarine with the key that launches Armageddon might be different in form, but is no different in substance than an idle Dairy Queen worker who procrastinates sweeping up the sprinkles his portly manager asked him to take care of the previous day.

Habitual idleness is a matter of the heart. (Believe me, I know first-hand.)

Refusing to work or provide for your family because you’re convinced Jesus is returning over the upcoming three-day weekend is, according to scripture, just as much of a sin as an able-bodied human being refusing to work or provide for their family because some well-intentioned bureaucrat is intent on giving them money they didn’t earn.

Right off the bat in verse 6, Paul exhorts the church body to “keep away from” anyone who is living an idle, lazy life and remains needlessly dependent on others. Pretty harsh, no? Not very “social” of him, right? I’ll even admit that nearly every time I read these words, I wince a little. All of the “But what about…” exceptions and exemptions start piling up on my conscience.

But if we’re serious about scripture, we know that scripture is serious about sin. Idleness and making yourself a prolonged and unnecessary burden on someone else, is a sin. There’s no way around that. The Greek translation for the phrase “in idleness” translates to “in an undisciplined, irresponsible or disorderly manner.” Keep that definition in mind for later.

Verses 7-9 are Paul’s reminder that he hasn’t simply preached against things like idleness and being a burden on others, but has modeled for the good people of Thessalonica the appropriate way to live. Paul was a minister of the gospel, and therefore was entitled to living off of the charity that came from other believers. But he feared that a lifetime of such dependency would weaken his witness, and, I don’t think it is unfair to infer, his character.

Verse 10 is the big one: “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” Paul did not teach this difficult practice of the Christian life from afar, but said it face-to-face. Christian friends don’t enjoy confronting friends. Christian parents don’t delight in having to withhold certain things from their beloved children. Confronting people with difficult subject matter is made no less daunting by how true the subject matter is. It stinks. No way around it.

via Loving Your Idle Neighbor | Values & Capitalism.

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Vatican Spokesman Censures ‘Rolling Stone’ Article on Pope |Blogs | NCRegister.com

by Edward Pentin Wednesday

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi has strongly criticised an article on Pope Francis that appears in the latest edition of Rolling Stone magazine.

Although he acknowledged that the Holy Father’s appearance on the publication’s front cover shows a diverse interest in the Pope, the Jesuit spokesman denounced the article’s negative portrayal of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s pontificate, saying the piece disqualifies itself as serious journalism.

“Unfortunately, the article disqualifies itself, falling into the usual mistake of a superficial journalism, which in order to highlight the positive aspects of Pope Francis, thinks it should describe in a negative way the pontificate of Pope Benedict, and does so with a surprising crudeness,” Fr. Lombardi said in a statement.

In the piece titled "Pope Francis: The Times They Are A-Changin’", author Mark Binelli calls Benedict’s papacy “disastrous” and goes so far as to attack the former pontiff’s appearance and character. He also describes Benedict’s acclaimed apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis as “wonky” but without explaining further. 

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/fr.-lombardi-censures-rolling-stone-article-on-pope#ixzz2rvK29qU7

Reaching Out to an Abortion-Wounded Nation | Daily News | NCRegister.com

A conversation with Project Rachel’s Vicki Thorn.

BY SUE ELLEN BROWDER 01/22/2014

Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel.

As crowds of impassioned pro-lifers gather once again on Jan. 22 for the annual March for Life in Washington, Pope Francis has said more should be done in reaching out to women who’ve had abortions.

Vicki Thorn, founder of the post-abortion apostolate Project Rachel, recently spoke to Register correspondent Sue Ellen Browder about why abortion is still such a hot-button emotional issue and how Catholics can help pour “oil on the wounds” of abortion in our culture today.

As the March for Life unfolds once again, what’s the

via Reaching Out to an Abortion-Wounded Nation | Daily News | NCRegister.com.

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From Jewish Passover to Christian Eucharist: The Story of the Todah

From Jewish Passover to Christian Eucharist: The Story of the Todah

TIM GRAY

Scholars have often wondered how the practice of Christian Eucharist could have arisen from the Lord’s Supper, which occurred in the context of the Jewish Passover. Since Passover occurs only once a year, how is it that the Christians got the notion that they could celebrate Jesus’ sacrificial meal weekly, if not daily?

The Last Supper

Gustave Dore

The answer is found in the ancient Israelite sacrifice called the todah.

While most people have heard of Old Testament sacrifices such as the holocaust offering or burnt offering, those who have heard of the todah sacrifice are as rare as lotto winners. Today\’s ignorance concerning the todah, however, should not imply that it was unimportant to the Jews. Far from it. The todah was one of the most significant sacrifices of the Jews.

Indeed, an old Rabbinic teaching says: \"In the coming Messianic age all sacrifices will cease, but the thank offering [todah] will never cease.\"(1) What is it about this sacrifice that makes it stand alone in such a way that it would outlast all other sacrifices after the redemption of the Messiah?

A todah sacrifice would be offered by someone whose life had been delivered from great peril, such as disease or the sword. The redeemed person would show his gratitude to God by gathering his closest friends and family for a todah sacrificial meal. The lamb would be sacrificed in the Temple and the bread for the meal would be consecrated the moment the lamb was sacrificed. The bread and meat, along with wine, would constitute the elements of the sacred todah meal, which would be accompanied by prayers and songs of thanksgiving, such as Psalm 116.

What does the word \"todah\" mean? It is Hebrew for \"thanksgiving,\" although it also connotes a confession of praise in addition to gratitude. For example, Leah gave thanks to God when she bore her fourth son, and so she named him yehudah — or Judah — which is the verbal form of todah — to give thanks.

There are many examples in the Old Testament of people offering todah — thanks — to God. Jonah, while in the belly of the whale, vows to offer up a todah sacrifice in the Temple if he is delivered (cf. Jon. 2:3-10). King Hezekiah offers up a todah hymn upon recovering from a life-threatening illness (cf. Is. 38). However, the best example of todah sacrifice and song is found in the life of King David.

via From Jewish Passover to Christian Eucharist: The Story of the Todah.

Octave Before Christmas | DivineOffice.org

\”O\” Antiphons, a Family Prayer

December 17

O Wisdom of our God Most High,
guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!

December 18

O Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!

December 19

O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!

December 20

O Key of David,
opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:
come and free the prisoners of darkness!

December 21

O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the
shadow of death.

December 22

O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

December 23

O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!

—From “Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers”

via Octave Before Christmas | DivineOffice.org.

Reciting or singing the “O Antiphons” have been part of our liturgical tradition since the very early Church. We, at Divineoffice.org made our mission to perpetuate this ancient tradition, to inspire families to gather in prayer and people around the word to join a community of prayer.

Let us remember that, in the Middle Ages, it became traditional to ring the great bells of the church each evening when the “O” Antiphones were being sung. Honoring this beautiful catholic tradition, this evening, at Vespers time, gather your loved ones and let us all pray, with one voice, to our Lord Jesus Christ who is to come.:

The Mystery of Our Reconciliation with God

 

From a letter by Saint Leo the Great, pope

The Mystery of Our Reconciliation with God

English: child Jesus with the virgin Mary, wit...

To speak of our Lord, the son of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as true and perfect man is of no value to us if we do not believe that he is descended from the line of ancestors set out in the Gospel.
Matthew’s gospel begins by setting out the genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham, and then traces his human descent by bringing his ancestral line down to his mother’s husband, Joseph. On the other hand, Luke traces his parentage backward step by step to the actual father of mankind, to show that both the first and the last Adam share the same nature.

No doubt the Son of God in his omnipotence could have taught and sanctified men by appearing to them in a semblance of human form as he did to the patriarchs and prophets, when for instance he engaged in a wrestling contest or entered into conversation with them, or when he accepted their hospitality and even ate the food they set before him. But these appearances were only types, signs that mysteriously foretold the coming of one who would take a true human nature from the stock of the patriarchs who had gone before him. No mere figure, then, fulfilled the mystery of our reconciliation with God, ordained from all eternity. The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon the Virgin nor had the power of the Most High overshadowed her, so that within her spotless womb Wisdom might build itself a house and the Word become flesh. The divine nature and the nature of a servant were to be united in one person so that the Creator of time might be born in time, and he through whom all things were made might be brought forth in their midst.

For unless the new man, by being made in the likeness of sinful humanity, had taken on himself the nature of our first parents, unless he had stooped to be one in substance with his mother while sharing the Father’s substance and, being alone free from sin, united our nature to his, the whole human race would still be held captive under the dominion of Satan. The Conqueror’s victory would have profited us nothing if the battle had been fought outside our human condition. But through this wonderful blending the mystery of new birth shone upon us, so that through the same Spirit by whom Christ was conceived and brought forth we too might be born again in a spiritual birth; and in consequence the evangelist declares the faithful to have been born not of blood, nor of the desire of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Exhortation Before Marriage

This  beautiful “Marriage Exhortation” was given to every couple, just before pronouncing wedding vows in the United States until 1969.

My dear friends: You are about to enter upon a union which is most sacred and most serious. It is most sacred, because established by God himself. By it, he gave to man a share in the greatest work of creation, the work of the continuation of the human race. And in this way he sanctified human love and enabled man and woman to help each other live as children of God, by sharing a common life under his fatherly care.

Because God himself is thus its author, marriage is of its very nature a holy institution, requiring of those who enter into it a complete and unreserved giving of self. But Christ our Lord added to the holiness of marriage an even deeper meaning and a higher beauty. He referred to the love of marriage to describe his own love for his Church, that is, for the people of God whom he redeemed by his own blood. And so he gave to Christians a new vision of what married life ought to be, a life of self-sacrificing love like his own. It is for this reason that his apostle, St. Paul, clearly states that marriage is now and for all time to be considered a great mystery, intimately bound up with the supernatural union of Christ and the Church, which union is also to be its pattern.

This union, then, is most serious, because it will bind you together for life in a relationship so close and so intimate, that it will profoundly influence your whole future. That future, with its hopes and disappointments, its successes and its failures, its pleasures and its pains, its joys and its sorrows, is hidden from your eyes. You know that these elements are mingled in every life, and are to be expected in your own. And so not knowing what is before you, you take each other for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death.

Truly, then, these words are most serious. It is a beautiful tribute to your undoubted faith in each other, that recognizing their full import, you are, nevertheless, so willing and ready to pronounce them. And because these words involve such solemn obligations, it is most fitting that you rest the security of your wedded life upon the great principle of self-sacrifice. And so you begin your married life by the voluntary and complete surrender of your individual lives in the interest of that deeper and wider life which you are to have in common. Henceforth you will belong entirely to each other; you will be one in mind, one in heart, and one in affections. And whatever sacrifices you may hereafter be required to make to preserve this mutual life, always make them generously. Sacrifice is usually difficult and irksome. Only love can make it easy, and perfect love can make it a joy. We are willing to give in proportion as we love. And when love is perfect, the sacrifice is complete. God so loved the world that he gave, his only-begotten Son, and the Son so loved us that he gave himself for our salvation. "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

No greater blessing can come to your married life than pure conjugal love, loyal and true to the end. May, then, this love with which you join your hands and hearts today never fail, but grow deeper and stronger as the years go on. And if true love and the unselfish spirit of perfect sacrifice guide your every action, you can expect the greatest measure of earthly happiness that may be allotted to man in this vale of tears. The rest is in the hands of God.

Nor will God be wanting to your needs; he will pledge you the life-long support of his graces in the Holy Sacrament, which you are now going to receive.