Amoris Laetitia 96: Not Coveting

amoris laetitia memeJealousy and envy, as we discussed yesterday, touch on commandments IX and X:

96. In a word, love means fulfilling the last two commandments of God’s Law: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s” (Ex 20:17).

Esteem for others: did you see this coming?

Love inspires a sincere esteem for every human being and the recognition of his or her own right to happiness. I love this person, and I see him or her with the eyes of God, who gives us everything “for our enjoyment” (1 Tim 6:17). As a result, I feel a deep sense of happiness and peace. This same deeply rooted love also leads me to reject the injustice whereby some possess too much and others too little. It moves me to find ways of helping society’s outcasts to find a modicum of joy. That is not envy, but the desire for equality.


Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 95: Love Is Not Jealous

amoris laetitia memeEnvy, jealousy: two difficult cousins who manage to worm their way into a lot of human interaction. People become convinced that others enjoy fruits that they themselves lack. Are we cheered when others do well? That would be the impulse of God in gazing at us. Let’s read:

95. Saint Paul goes on to reject as contrary to love an attitude expressed by the verb zelói – to be jealous or envious. This means that love has no room for discomfiture at another person’s good fortune (cf. Acts 7:9; 17:5). Envy is a form of sadness provoked by another’s prosperity; it shows that we are not concerned for the happiness of others but only with our own well-being. Whereas love makes us rise above ourselves, envy closes us in on ourselves. True love values the other person’s achievements. It does not see him or her as a threat. It frees us from the sour taste of envy. It recognizes that everyone has different gifts and a unique path in life. So it strives to discover its own road to happiness, while allowing others to find theirs.

“Love is not jealous” covers this section as well as 96, which we’ll get to read tomorrow here. Meanwhile, any comments?

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Appointment for Bishops

croziersWith the appointment of Archbishop Cupich to the Congregation of Bishops, does this mean we’ll be seeing a sea change in those who head American sees?

More bishops aligned with the priorities of Pope Francis? That’s what most people seem to think.

It seems likely that there will be a positive impact on the failures connected with the administration of sexual predators:

At the same time, another competence of the congregation bears noting: far more than merely providing for appointments, Bishops enjoys sweeping authority to investigate prelates for alleged misconduct and recommend their removal from office. Having scored high marks for his handling of abuse, child protection and other good-governance issues both as a diocesan bishop and USCCB chair, as Cupich has already made a public call to urge the effective implementation of Francis’ new norms to combat abuse of office by bishops and religious superiors, he’s now been placed squarely in a position to push the project to a thorough conclusion.

I wonder if we’ll continue to see bishops from smaller dioceses promoted to large ones.

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Amoris Laetitia 93-94: Love is at the Service of Others

amoris laetitia memeTwo paragraphs today that look at love at the service of others. I’m not surprised that this Ignatian value, of being a person for others, surfaces in this reflection.

93. The next word that Paul uses is chrestéuetai. The word is used only here in the entire Bible. It is derived from chrestós: a good person, one who shows his goodness by his deeds. Here, in strict parallelism with the preceding verb, it serves as a complement. Paul wants to make it clear that “patience” is not a completely passive attitude, but one accompanied by activity, by a dynamic and creative interaction with others. The word indicates that love benefits and helps others. For this reason it is translated as “kind”; love is ever ready to be of assistance.

I think also that love is not an “experience” in which we immerse ourselves. Pope Francis, Ignatius of Loyola, and Paul of Tarsus see it as an active response to the grace of Christ.

Drawing Hebrew etymology and the Spiritual Exercises together:

94. Throughout the text, it is clear that Paul wants to stress that love is more than a mere feeling. Rather, it should be understood along the lines of the Hebrew verb “to love”; it is “to do good”. As Saint Ignatius of Loyola said, “Love is shown more by deeds than by words”.(Spiritual Exercises, Contemplation to Attain Love (230)) It thus shows its fruitfulness and allows us to experience the happiness of giving, the nobility and grandeur of spending ourselves unstintingly, without asking to be repaid, purely for the pleasure of giving and serving.


Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 92: More on Patience

amoris laetitia memeToday we continue looking at patience. Two extremes to avoid:

92. Being patient does not mean letting ourselves be constantly mistreated, tolerating physical aggression or allowing other people to use us. We encounter problems whenever we think that relationships or people ought to be perfect, or when we put ourselves at the center and expect things to turn out our way. Then everything makes us impatient, everything makes us react aggressively.

We are looking at generalities here, but ones which apply to relationships and our expectations of these relationships:

Unless we cultivate patience, we will always find excuses for responding angrily. We will end up incapable of living together, antisocial, unable to control our impulses, and our families will become battlegrounds. That is why the word of God tells us: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice” (Eph 4:31).

What is the path to patience? These apply to our loved ones as much as anyone:

Patience takes root when I recognize that other people also have a right to live in this world, just as they are. It does not matter if they hold me back, if they unsettle my plans, or annoy me by the way they act or think, or if they are not everything I want them to be. Love always has an aspect of deep compassion that leads to accepting the other person as part of this world, even when he or she acts differently than I would like.

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Open Thread: Proof-Texting

Our friend and once-frequent commenter Max is back. In a deleted comment on Amoris Laetitia 91, he wrote:

Seems this post and the Pope’s use of those Bible passages qualifies as an example of “proof texting.” This is not to criticize his freedom to do so, but does it not validate the proof texting which is routinely done by his detractors?

For example, if Exodus 34:6 gives us a deep insight into God’s love what then of Exodus 21:7 where God recommends rules for selling a daughter for what can only be sex slavery? Or Exodus 21:5 where God recommends using an awl to cut a slave’s ear open for branding purposes?

Why is Exodus 34:6 more salient than Exodus 21:5? And who determines it?

While this is not germane to the larger discussion on Amoris Laetitia, it is worth exploring a bit.

In the post where Max’s original comment was, we were looking at Pope Francis bolstering the notion of patience as an appropriate virtue to bring to family life and relationships. It’s not an idea original to him. He cited Exodus, Numbers, and Wisdom. He could have mined the Psalms and the Prophets for a good number of other citations. If one turns to those cited passages, they are not just isolated quotes, but also part of longer narratives that suggest God takes a lot of time to get impatient with people.

Max, on the other hand, is looking at passages that address practices of slavery. We know slavery was tolerated in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and even supported until about a century to two ago. Since Exodus 21:5, 7 don’t address patience, they aren’t really germane to the discussion as presented here.

And since a vast majority of human beings oppose slavery, they don’t seem to have any traction today. That means that human beings have sidelined what the Torah says about slavery.

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Amoris Laetitia 91: Love Is Patient

amoris laetitia memeVerse 4, Love is patient, begins the reflection on 1 Corinthians:

91. The first word used is makrothyméi. This does not simply have to do with “enduring all things”, because we find that idea expressed at the end of the seventh verse. Its meaning is clarified by the Greek translation of the Old Testament, where we read that God is “slow to anger” (Ex 34:6; Num 14:18). It refers, then, to the quality of one who does not act on impulse and avoids giving offense. We find this quality in the God of the Covenant, who calls us to imitate him also within the life of the family. Saint Paul’s texts using this word need to be read in the light of the Book of Wisdom (cf. 11:23; 12:2, 15-18), which extols God’s restraint, as leaving open the possibility of repentance, yet insists on his power, as revealed in his acts of mercy. God’s “patience”, shown in his mercy towards sinners, is a sign of his real power.

Pope Francis broadens the view here. Citing the Pentateuch, the model of love is less something of romance-tinged endurance, and more an imitation of God’s own love for people. In mercy, God’s power is revealed. Seems like something a bit deeper than flash, show, and punishment.

For your reference Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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