Daily Devotional for December 4 -10
This week: Seven Principles of Catholic Social Teaching. As with most teachings of the Catholic Church, there is nothing at variance with Orthodox teaching on the same issues.
1. Life and Dignity of the Human Person
Every human is created in God’s image, meaning there is dignity in every person’s life. The very foundation of Catholic social teachings is that every life is sacred, creating a moral vision for society. Catholic teachings call on us all to respect all life.
One of the ten commandments, “Thou shalt not kill,” clearly shows the importance of all human life in the Catholic faith. Inequality and exclusion go against the very teachings of Jesus Christ. We should never turn our back on another human being.
All human life is sacred, even if society tries to tell us otherwise. Whether someone is elderly, poor or homeless, they are still created in the glory and image of God. Understanding that all people and life are valuable is essential to the Catholic faith.
In Genesis 1:27, the Bible states: “God created mankind in His image; in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” The Bible teaches us to honor all life because God created each person in His image.
This is the day which the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad therein.
Dignity of Man cont…
Unfortunately, society often excludes or neglects those less fortunate than us. Even if a person is sick or homeless, they deserve compassion and respect. We should follow His teachings by helping and lifting those up who are less fortunate than we are.
God and His almighty glory continue to watch over those less fortunate and send blessings their way. We must remember not to judge those who society may condemn. Instead, we should treat them as a brother or sister because we are all children in His eyes.
Deuteronomy 10:17-19 tells us: “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, / who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and loves the resident alien, giving them food and clothing. / So you too should love the resident alien, for that is what you were in the land of Egypt.”
Blessed by the name of the Lord from henceforth and forever more.
2. Call to Family, Community and Participation
While all people are sacred, we are also social. Family and marriage are fundamental aspects of our lives and the Church and must be strengthened and supported. The Catholic Church teaches that we all have a duty and right to participate in our communities and society as a whole, especially the vulnerable and poor.
An essential aspect of our lives is our family, founded on marriage and the environment a wife and husband create to raise children. Because Catholic tradition states that all people are social, we must support and uphold our families.
Genesis 2:18 states: “The LORD God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him.” God tells us that we, as humans, must value our family and community, as we are all social beings. No person should be left alone, not even those society wrongfully rejects.
We should all serve to strengthen our community and show compassion to the sick, elderly, homeless and all those who may be less fortunate. Our lives and the success of our communities are directly related to the well-being of our families, as family is the fundamental building block of our community.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning it is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Call to Family Cont…
God also teaches us to love and honor our parents and that we must also love our brothers and sisters, as John 4:19-21 says: “We love because He first loved us. / If 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. / This is the commandment we have from Him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
While work is another important aspect of life, we mustn’t let it eclipse the love for our families. Materialism and greed threaten the bond of husband, wife, brother, sister, child and parent. We must always remember what is truly important in this life: God, His glory and our families.
Create in me a clean heart of God and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not from thy presence nor take thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and by thy governing spirit establish me.
3. Rights and Responsibilities
We all have the right to life, a fundamental right that provides us the opportunity to receive other rights. Each person has the right to lead a decent life with family, faith, shelter, food, education, health care, employment and housing. We must not turn our backs on those who are spiritually or materially less fortunate.
Just because someone is ill or homeless doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to a decent life. God teaches us to show compassion and help those less fortunate find a decent, safe and happy life. While it is important to respect these rights for ourselves, we must remember to respect them for every other person we meet on Earth.
In addition to our rights, we all have responsibilities to fulfill for our families, local communities and civilization as a whole. Isaiah 1:16-17 states, “Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; / learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.”
Prayer: O give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.
Responsibilities cont…God teaches us to turn our backs on false idols, such as money and greed. Instead, we have the responsibility to treat each person with respect to their own rights. Instead of ignoring a sick, injured or materially poor person, we must understand that they are a person with the right to life.
Whenever possible, we should seek to help others to lead a safe and decent life. While we have duties to ourselves and our families, we have an important duty to those in need who can’t help themselves. Unfortunately, society teaches us to reject these people, but the very opposite is true. We must show compassion and respect, helping these people find wellness again.
Jeremiah 22:13-16 says, “Woe to him who builds his house on wrongdoing, his roof-chambers on injustice; Who works his neighbors without pay, and gives them no wages. / Who 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. / Must 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. / Because he dispensed justice to the weak and the poor, he prospered. Is this not to know me?—oracle of the LORD.”
The Bible continually teaches us to respect others and that we are not better or worse than any one of God’s children. We are all created in His image, we all have the right to life, and we all must hold up our responsibilities to society and those in need.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
From St. Patrick’s ‘Breastplate’
4. Options for the Poor and Vulnerable
The poor and vulnerable deserve to be unoppressed and loved. Sadly, our society remains divided between the poor and rich, and we often wrongfully disregard the poor and vulnerable in our communities. Instead, we should be putting the needs of these people first, supporting them and showing compassion.
Matthew 25:34-40 states: “Then 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. / For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, / naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’”
The chapter continues, “Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? / When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? / When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ / 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.’”
We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we worship Thee, we glorify Thee, we give thanks to Thee for thy great glory.