The task of creating a good life for all members of society is never perfectly realized.
Social life is a lot like being on a sports team. Individual players want to be as successful as possible, perhaps by scoring lots of points. The ultimate goal of each player, however, is the success of the team, a goal more than the sum of every player’s statistics. A team does not win because each player tries to score as many points as possible, but conditions do need to be optimal for each individual player to play well in order for a team to win. The good of both the individual and the team are interdependent.
How do Christians make sense of some of the Bible’s more graphic stories?
There are some Bible stories that don’t appear in the Lectionary. Like that of Yael, in the book of Judges, who drives a tent peg through an enemy general’s head, killing him instantly. Or that of Uzzah, who reaches out to steady the Tabernacle in 2 Samuel and, as a reward for his consideration, is instantly struck dead by God.
The Catholic Church has never declared that anybody is in hell.
The Catholic Church has historically treated suicide as an unforgivable sin. The reasoning, as articulated by St. Thomas Aquinas, was that suicide was not only a grave sin but one whose very nature deprived a person of the opportunity for repentance and, therefore, forgiveness.
This is, of course, no longer the case. The church now both buries and prays for suicide victims, entrusting them into God’s limitless mercy.
Israelites in peril made their way to Egypt many times in the biblical record.
Folks are asking the question: Should we count our Lord among the ranks of refugees? Did the Holy Family qualify for refugee status, given they were forced to leave Israel and lay low in Egypt to avoid King Herod’s dreadful war on baby boys?
Sin is a break in a relationship thanks to our words, thoughts, actions, and inactions.
When I was in high school, I wanted to go to a party. I knew that my parents would say no, so I lied and said that I was at a friend’s house and went anyway. This was wrong, but was it a sin?
The Bible calls for us to “love God with all of our strength” and “love our neighbor as ourselves.” In general, sin refers to free choices that harm and break our relationship with God and with others.
In the Roman Catholic Church, bread for the Eucharist must be made of wheat, be unleavened, and be recently made and unspoiled.
At the center of our celebration are the simple elements of bread and wine.
The wine used for Mass is much the same as any wine we might serve at our own tables. Any unspoiled natural wine made only of grapes may be used. But the bread that we use for Mass is usually the flat, round wafers we call hosts. (The word host comes from the Latin hostia, which means victim, one to be sacrificed.)
Mercy and compassion do not always go hand in hand.
The logo for last year’s Year of Mercy, designed by Jesuit Father Marko Rupnik, depicts the Good Shepherd, who in his mercy takes humanity on his shoulders. When you look closely at the image, however, you see the shepherd’s eyes are merged with the man he carries.
If women had sat down to dinner with Jesus and the other men, it certainly would have made the written record. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t present.
My friend Tim worked in Jerusalem. One night he was invited to supper at the home of a Palestinian employee. Tim arrived at the single-room dwelling, where an elaborate table was set. It was an honor to have the boss under one’s roof. Given the journey through checkpoints to get to the West Bank beyond the wall that divides it from Jerusalem, it was expected Tim would stay the night.
Hell may not be a literal burning fire, but does that mean it doesn’t exist?
Despite its reputation, the Reformation did not divide the unity of the Catholic Church.
On October 31, 2016, the same day Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in 1517, the Lutheran World Federation began a yearlong commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. To recognize the Lutheran Church and to affirm the Catholic Church’s continuing resolve to seek full Christian unity, Pope Francis participated in a Lutheran-Catholic liturgy in Lund, Sweden. However, his presence was not without controversy.