And yet the tragedy is that we are the only lights most of the world will every see. Stated another way, believers are the only "Bible" most folks will ever "read"! Jesus uses the peck-measure or grain-measure to indicate a familiar object which is found in every house. Guzik -Even as lamps are placed higher so their light can be more effective, we should look for ways to let our light shine in greater and broader ways. Martyn Lloyd-Jones has warned that "If we find in ourselves a tendency to put the light under a bushel, we must begin to examine ourselves and make sure that it really is 'light.
The KJV translates it as candlestick but in all the other NT uses it refers more accurately to a lampstand. This was a part of the furniture of every house and in Jesus' day usually there was only one in each house. The year was , the tail end of the wild period of modern American history. He replied quickly that the number one problem was irrelevance. We promise to make men different, but the promise goes largely unfulfilled.
You promised this, now fulfill it. Show us that you can and will convert us. There is no hope from any other direction. Twenty-five years have passed and I am sure that what Dr. Jones said is more true today than it was when he first said it. The number one problem of the church is irrelevance. Take a look around Oak Park this morning.
Add up the attendance of all 55 churches in the village. Put simply, the church has lost its influence in the community. There are many reasons why this is so, but one reason stands out above the rest. The church has lost its influence because Christians have neglected their responsibility to be salt and light in the world. As we have neglected to be what God has called us to be, the world has decided to ignore us.
And the flip side of that is also true. When Christians decide to be salt and light, the world pays close attention to what we say and do. Let me say it simply: When we are salt and light, the world listens to us. Gives light lampo means to radiate brilliancy, beam or shine. The logic is clear and direct - just as the function of a household lamp is to give light in the house, so too believers are to provide illumination to all they encounter in this spiritually dark world.
By witnessing with the evangelistic methods they've been taught in church? But even more foundational than having evangelistic methods is the knowledge that we are in fact witnesses for the Light in every place we are. The point is that witnessing is not so much what you do but what you are. If the beatitudes are truly being your attitudes, beloved, you are light in the Lord. You are a living epistle, a walking testimony of the New Life that lives in you and shines forth in the darkness.
You are illuminating the truth of the gospel by your life and lips because your light is so dramatically different from the darkness of this world. The lost see the gospel at work in your character and conduct and some not all will want to know what makes you different 1Pe 3: They are like one of the men in a class I led who had come to Christ only 6 weeks earlier. He stated that the reason he hadn't become a Christian earlier was because he was looking for and waiting to meet someone who was a genuine Christian! One day he did meet one who was letting his light shine, and not long after this encounter, the man gave his life to Christ.
I was, especially when he ask the entire class, " Where were the rest of you guys all that time? Or maybe our lights were dim, dingy and dirty because of sin in our lives or because of compromises we had made with the darkness of this world which will quench the fire of the power of the Spirit! It is not more or better evangelistic programs that the body of Christ needs.
The greatest need is for believers to live like genuine citizens of the kingdom to which they belong, the Kingdom of Heaven!. How are you doing dear citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven? For everyone who does evil hates the light , and does not come to the light , lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light , that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.
What does light do? John says it exposes one's deeds, either evil in those who hate the light or as deeds wrought by God in those who practice the truth. Have you ever been in an unfamiliar place in the dark, and after fumbling around you discovered the light switch only to discover the room was far different than you had imagined it in the darkness? Light also gives life and health.
Take a person out of sunlight and away from vitamin fortified products and their supplies of active Vitamin D would wilt away with potentially serious consequences for the integrity of their skeletal system rickets in children, osteomalacia in adults - see interesting article on Vitamin D. Light awakens us and allows us to see where we are going. We could go on, but what Jesus is talking about is spiritual light.
As John explains above, the Light of Christ when He was here physically and now His light in and through us, brings light to spiritual darkness making possible a clearer distinction between evil and good. Simply shine forth from whatever "lampstand" God has strategically placed you. Dabney told a story of a very worldly-minded attorney in the 19th century that had nothing for Christianity. After years of ungodly living and scorning of Christians, as he grew old he went to live with his sister who happened to be a Christian.
Her son was a pastor, and he had opportunity to engage the old man in conversation about Christ and even recommend some books to him. Some time later, ill in health, the old attorney asked to confess his faith in Christ publicly. He saw her godliness and radiance as a Christian in every situation, and it caused him to seek the Lord to know that same relationship to Jesus Christ.
Is your life a good argument for the gospel? The Power of Christians as Light Bolding added. One is reminded of the Russian Jewish doctor, Boris Kornfeld, who one night in prison in Siberia sat up with a man who was desperately ill and told him the story of his conversion to Christ, shining forth the light and love of Jesus. That listening man's name? In his modern classic The Gulag Archipelago Solzhenitsyn recalls the Dr Kornfeld's light and how it paradoxically shown forth in an almost completely dark room ….
Fervently he tells me the long story of his conversion from Judaism to Christianity. I am astonished at the conviction of the new convert, at the ardor of his words. We know each other very slightly, and he was not the one responsible for my treatment, but there was simply no one here with whom he could share his feelings. He was a gentle and well-mannered person. I could see nothing bad in him, nor did I know anything bad about him. However, I was on guard because Kornfeld had now been living for two months inside the hospital barracks, without going outside.
He had shut himself up in here, at his place of work, and avoided moving around camp at all. This meant that he was afraid of having his throat cut. In our camp it had recently become fashionable to cut the throats of stool pigeons. This has an effect. But who could guarantee that only stoolies were getting their throats cut? One prisoner had had his throat cut in a clear case of settling a sordid grudge. Therefore the self-imprisonment of Kornfeld in the hospital did not necessarily prove that he was a stool pigeon. Superficially it can have nothing to do with what we are guilty of in actual fact, but if you go over your life with a fine-tooth comb and ponder it deeply, you will always be able to hunt down that transgression of yours for which you have now received this blow.
I cannot see his face. Through the window come only the scattered reflections of the lights of the perimeter outside. The door from the corridor gleams in a yellow electrical glow. But there is such mystical knowledge in his voice that I shudder. Those were the last words of Boris Kornfeld. Noiselessly he went into one of the nearby wards and there lay down to sleep. There was no one with whom he could speak. I went off to sleep myself. I was wakened in the morning by running about and tramping in the corridor; the orderlies were carrying Kornfeld's body to the operating room.
He had been dealt eight blows on the skull with a plasterer's mallet while he slept. He died on the operating table, without regaining consciousness. That very night Kornfeld had shone so brightly the light of Christ, he was clubbed to death. We must shine wherever and whenever the Lord gives us a venue, redeeming the precious moments for the days are evil cf notes Ephesians 5: Beloved, have you ever had someone who saw the light of Christ in you later turn to the Lord? It is a wonderful, glorious, mysterious gift of grace to experience. Dr Kornfeld knows this today in glory in a way that we cannot even imagine.
In a parallel passage the context is the Great Tribulation , Daniel explains that "shining now" will have impact on "shining in heaven" writing that…. To shine in glory is a privilege of all the saved cf. Any who influence others for righteousness shine like stars in varying capacities of light as their reward as in 1 Cor.
The MacArthur Study Bible. Believers are to do the same thing today, by the way. Thru the Bible Commentary. Thomas Nelson Bolding added. Paul explains also alludes to the believer's call to be the light of the world in his letter to the saints at Philippi writing…. Do all things without grumbling or disputing that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world holding fast to the Word of life see notes Philippians 2: Note carefully that neither Jesus nor Paul tell us to be searchlights or spotlights but like lights in lighthouses in the dark spiritual night of this world and that by so doing we might prevent tragic shipwreck and eternal loss of some who have eyes to see the light of Christ!
How is the light in your lighthouse shining? Remember that we are not here to get used to the dark but to shine as lights. The eye is a fascinating organ and when exposed to a dark room will gradually adjust so that it sees more in the darkness. That is good physiology but it makes for bad spirituality. Dear believer, watch what you watch in this world, lest you get more comfortable with the darkness.
One question you might be asking is this - I understand Christians are light in the Lord and that we are not to hide our light from the world, but is there any way we can assure that we stay bright, clear beacons of light? Kent Hughes tells the following story that illustrates how this is possible writing that….
A man returning from a journey brought his wife a matchbox that would glow in the dark. After he gave it to her, she turned out the light, but it could not be seen. Both thought they had been cheated. Then the wife noticed some French words on the box and asked a friend to translate them. So it is with us! We must expose ourselves to Jesus, delight in his Word, and spend time in prayer soaking up His rays.
We are continually reminded that we live in a fallen world by our own sinful tendencies, by newspaper headlines that report horrifying crimes, and by a society that is growing accustomed to gross immorality. Yet our conduct often reflects a dim and distorted image of Him. Paul knew that we need to be spiritually alert to evil and nip it in the bud. Then we will be sure to shine as lights in this dark world. Darkness seems so overpowering In our world today; Help us, Lord, to keep on shining Till the break of day.
Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. Let them see the good things you do and praise your Father in Heaven.
In the same manner let your light shine before men in order that they may see your good works and in order that they may glorify your Father who is in heaven. Your light - If you are a believer you are a supernatural "light". And you are responsible for letting your light shine forth.
Stop complaining about how others are not letting their light shine! Focus on your light. You are unique and reborn by the Spirit to with the express calling to glorify God. I would not give much for your religion unless it can be seen. Lamps do not talk, but they do shine. Let … shine - Jesus does not make a suggestion but as discussed below issues a command "Since you are light, then shine! When a light bulb is switched on it fulfills its purpose.
When a Christian is filled with controlled by - Ep 5: Are you fulfilling the purpose for which God has "re-created" you? As John Piper remarked that "This is not an admonition to do God a favor. It is a command to align our lives with His eternal goal. He created us for His glory. I formed you, I made you. O let your light shine steadily on, That all the world, beholding, May glorify your Father above, And praise His boundless love.
Refrain O let your light shine cheerfully on, When cloud and storm are breaking, Its beams may lead some sorrow-oppressed To yonder Ark of Rest. New English Bible phrases it "And you , like the lamp, must shed light among your fellows". This sentence literally reads begins " so let your light shine before men ". The idea is "in this way", "in this manner", "in like manner", referring to what Jesus had just said. Standing at the beginning of the sentence, it points back to the illustration just used.
Wycliffe has apparently caught this correct sense: So shine your light before men. Word Studies in the New Testament Vol. Be a ray of sunshine everywhere you go; Comfort bring to others, stoop to raise the low; Kind words cost but little, smiles bring pleasures, too; They may lift a burden; let them not be few. Refrain Be a ray of sunshine everywhere you go; Cheerfulness is needed, this you can bestow; Help to chase the shadows from this world away, Bringing joy and gladness like a shining ray. Jesus is the light of the world and we are called and empowered to be little reflections of Him to both unbelievers and believers.
Let… shine lampo means to radiate brilliantly or beam forth. Jesus gives His loyal subjects an command to do this right now and do it effectively aorist imperative - can even convey the idea of urgency. This is a permissive imperative which means to permit your light to shine. To shine is not optional! If we fail to obey our Lord's command we will fail to fulfill His purpose for us in His glorious plan. To be the light of the world means illuminating the darkness so that others may see reality.
Note that Jesus is not saying here for us to go out and "witness" we may have that opportunity but that is not His primary focus. What Jesus intends is for believers to live out the Christ life which is in them Col 1: Let the character of Jesus, the character of His beatitudes Mt 5: Darkness is the absence of light; and darkness alone cannot dispel the light, but the smallest light can dispel the greatest darkness.
One match in a dark football coliseum can easily be seen from the opposite side of the building. Campbell Morgan said that the church did the most for the world when the church was the least like the world. Today, many churches have the idea they must imitate the world in order to reach the world. A nation will not decay and collapse because of the people who peddle pornography or illicit drugs, but because of Christians who are no longer as salt and light.
Sinners will act like sinners. When saints begin acting like sinners, their compromise hurts not only themselves and their families and churches, but also contributes to the decay of the entire nation. Are you convicted yet? Jesus is clearly not advocating isolationism like some so called "Christian sects" do or a monastic lifestyle.
We are to be like cream which separates from milk and yet is still in contact with it. When others see evidences in a believer's life which only be explained by the supernatural work of God's Spirit, these "divine reflections" will cause some not all in the world to give glory to our Father in heaven. As John Piper says "When the people of God are set free from the compulsion of self-exaltation and self-justification and self-preservation, so that we live for the eternal good of other people, then we become the light of the world and the salt of the earth, and people notice in us the reality of God and give Him glory Matthew 5: The renowned American evangelist, D.
Moody , once said "A Christian is the world's Bible — and some of them need revising… It is a great deal better to live a holy life than to talk about it. We are told to let our light shine, and if it does we won't need to tell anybody it does. The light will be its own witness. Lighthouses don't ring bells and fire cannons to call attention to their shining--they just shine.
Spurgeon - To be the light of the world surrounds life with the most stupendous responsibilities, and so invests it with the most solemn dignity. In a similar vein Spurgeon once said "The sermons most needed today are sermons in shoes. Letting the light of God shine through - One Sunday on their way home from church, a little girl turned to her mother and said, "Mommy, the preacher's sermon this morning confused me. Is that true, Mommy?
Dr Paul Chappell reminds us of two important principles in regard to a believer letting God's light shining through, first reminding us that…. God should show through our life, but sadly sometimes our life's bulbs can be dirty, dimming His light. Think about these two factors that can dim God's light:. Just as dirt accumulates on a light bulb, so the dirtiness of sin can accumulate in your life. If you are not careful to keep your heart clean through daily confession and repentance, unconfessed sin can keep your life from shining God's light.
Have you ever known a Christian who you wondered about their heart's condition? They showed no signs of spiritual fruit and lived in open sin. While we cannot know a person's heart, we can see his light. Allowing sin to go unconfessed can dim God's light and hinder the effectiveness of a life's testimony. How often have Christians hidden their lights because of a fear of the opinions of others? We all want to be accepted and appreciated by our peers, yet our world tells us that talking about Christ and faith is taboo.
We are told that religion is for Sunday, and Monday through Saturday is a different life. But God desires that you would allow His light to shine through you every day of the week. As the children's song goes,. I'm going to let it shine. How clean is your life's bulb today? Has unconfessed sin dimmed the light of Christ? Or are you purposefully hiding your light for fear of what others think?
Christian, would you fear man's opinion so much that you would allow someone to die not ever knowing Christ? Take time today to inspect your life. Ask God to reveal any dimming sin or actions that are keeping your life from brightly showing God's light. Also ask God to give you strength to shine for Him even when others would hide their lights out of fear.
Daily in the Word the daily devotion and radio ministry of Dr. In such a way - Don't miss this divinely inspired caveat. It is vitally important, for as someone has said "We are not Christ's lawyers; we are his witnesses! John Piper writes that "We are saved for the sake of God-exalting good works. This is the aim of our justification—not the ground, but the aim and the fruit. The Puritan writer Thomas Brooks wrote that "A Christian's life should be nothing but a visible representation of Christ. It can convey the idea of taking special notice of something, with the implication of concerning oneself with the object seen.
For example, when John uses it of seeing God cf Jo 6: Citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven must conduct themselves in a such a way that their life and influence is visible and obvious, not secret or hidden. As H W Cragg put it…. The Christian is the visual aid which God brings on to the stage when he begins to speak at an unconverted person. Believers are not to live incognito or in "spiritual disguise", camouflaging their devotion to Christ, but living out His life as those poor in spirit and dependent on His power to allow the true colors of the King and His Kingdom to be seen.
John Piper adds that Matthew 5: Good kalos means lovely, beautiful, helpful, honest, useful, and well adapted to its purpose or end. Kalos does not so much emphasize quality though that is important as it does attractiveness, beautiful appearance. Originally, it referred to beauty of form. It was used of a beautiful woman, of a safe harbor, of good fruit, or good seed.
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Kalos stresses the outward appearance and the usefulness of something to fulfill its purpose. There is another word the NT uses for good which is the Greek word agathos. Agathos is that which is practically and morally good; but kalos is not only practically and morally good, but also aesthetically good, lovely, winsome, and pleasing to the eye. Works ergon refers to a task, employment, a deed, actions or acts or that which is wrought or made. Works then can refer to our work, employment, our craft, etc. Regardless of the specific application, the point is that our works are to be done in such a way that they, in a winsome manner, attract and point men to God the Father.
Piper writes that "doing good deeds before an onlooking world is a necessary part of declaring God's marvelous works and making Him a Name on the earth see his full message Good Deeds and the Glory of God. Good works are works that show the beauty the Lord has worked in us.
How do we do good works? Part of the answer a vitally important part is through the intake of the Word of God as we see in the following passages "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
So how are God's men and women prepared to perform good works? Clearly it is by the intake of God's profitable Word. Do you maintain the discipline of a steady, daily intake of God's Word? If you do not, then you short circuit God's mode of making you adequate for every good work. The corollary is that you may be doing many "good works" but they are really your works and not His works through you. Good works then are really God's works through His "instruments" believers.
Genuine good works must be done with such integrity that all who see them have no choice but to credit our Father in heaven. Jesus commands us to let our light shine through beautiful and attractive works! Herein lies the danger. Jesus is not saying we are to produce fleshly works of our own making but works wrought by His indwelling Spirit as we abide in the Vine by letting the Word of Christ richly dwell within us. The works then come forth like fruit on the Vine, as Christ's lives His life through such surrendered saints.
The works are performed in His power, not ours. To see good works by us is to see Christ in us Col 1: Good works are not something we create or make up, but something we allow the Lord to do through us. It is His light but it is our responsibility and choice to let it shine. John Piper - According to Jesus the good deeds of His disciples are the window in this world through which people come to see and adore the glory of God.
Read the full message The Local Church: As Barnhouse once said alluding to our good works before a lost world "Men may not read the gospel in seal-skin, or the gospel in morocco, or the gospel in cloth covers; but they can't get away from the gospel in shoe leather… Every believer is a witness whether he wants to be or not. Newman comments on " good works " noting that "The focus now shifts from the character of the disciples to their good works which result from this character. What the disciples are must be evident to all, but in such a way that it reveals the true origin of the good works that they do cf John These works may be characterized as deeds of mercy cf Mt 5: All glory to God!
This is our supreme purpose in this present as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. To bring glory to God and to Him Alone. My heart is full of Christ, and longs Its glorious matter to declare! Of him I make my loftier songs, I cannot from his praise forbear; My ready tongue makes haste to sing The glories of my heavenly King. For example in 1Cor 6: In other words, believer now are to walk in this dark world which is devolving not evolving and are to let others see God in and through us. Believers now live with the high and holy purpose of rendering glory to God so that He is honored, exalted and recognized for Who and What He is.
It means we are to render conspicuous and glorious the divine character and attributes of our Father in heaven. They should see Him, not us. Am I truly living a life different from unbelievers? Is there anything about my life which one might recognize as supernatural? Am I giving a proper opinion of my Father by the way I live? As John Stott explains…. Nothing shuts the mouth, seals the lips, ties the tongue, like the poverty of our own spiritual experience.
We do not bear witness for the simple reason that we have no witness to bear. The glory of God is the beauty and excellence of His manifold perfections. It is an attempt to put into words what God is like in His magnificence and purity. It refers to His infinite and overflowing fullness of all that is good. The term might focus on His different attributes from time to time—like His power and wisdom and mercy and justice—because each one is indeed awesome and beautiful in its magnitude and quality.
Now when God says that He created us for His glory, it cannot mean that He created us so that He would become more glorious, that His beauty and perfection would be somehow increased by us. It is unthinkable that God should become more perfectly God by making something that is not God. It is a staggering but necessary thought that God has always existed, that He never came into being, and that everything which exists which is not God is from His fullness and can never add anything to Him which did not come from Him.
That is what it means to be God; and it should humble us, O, how it should humble us, when we ponder his reality! But this means that when God says He made us for his glory, He does not mean he made us so that he could become more glorious in himself. Instead what Isaiah Father pater is spoken generally of men and in a special sense of God as in this context. It is used to mean the one by whom one is begotten. Pater is the Greek equivalent of the Aramaic word Abba. Aramaic was the language which the Jews spoke in Palestine in the first century.
It is a wonderful, new emphasis on personal intimacy for the believer. Matthew used this word forty-five times. And while the fatherhood of God was not unknown in the Old Testament, here it is endowed with a very personal sense Mark The king wants His people to know that His kingdom involves a deeply personal relationship with God. It is so much more than a religious or organizational connection. Weber, Stuart, Max Anders, Ed: Holman New Testament Commentary: The people undoubtedly wished for relief from the contemptuous insults of idolaters, but their main desire was that Jehovah himself should no longer be the object of heathen insults.
The saddest part of all their trouble was that their God was no longer feared and dreaded by their adversaries. When Israel marched into Canaan, a terror was upon all the people round about, because of Jehovah, the mighty God; but this dread the nations had shaken off since there had been of late no remarkable display of miraculous power. Therefore Israel cried unto her God that he would again make bare his arm as in the day when he cut Rahab and wounded the dragon. The prayer is evidently tinctured with a consciousness of unworthiness; because of their past unfaithfulness they hardly dared to appeal to the covenant, and to ask blessings for themselves, but they fell back upon the honour of the Lord their God -- an old style of argument which their great lawgiver, Moses, had used with such effect when he pleaded, "Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth?
Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. The repetition of the words, Not unto us, would seem to indicate a very serious desire to renounce any glory which they might at any time have proudly appropriated to themselves, and it also sets forth the vehemence of their wish that God would at any cost to them magnify his own name. They loathed the idea of seeking their own glory, and rejected the thought with the utmost detestation; again and again disclaiming any self glorifying motive in their supplication.
John MacArthur gives us a note of warning writing that "When what we do causes people to be attracted to us rather than to God, to see our human character rather than His divine character, we can be sure that what they see is not His light. John Piper - Obedience is the irrepressible public relations project of those who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good Matthew 5: MacArthur goes on to give two illustrations of men who let their light shine in a way that glorified their Father in heaven….
It is said of Robert Murray McCheyne, a godly Scottish minister of the last century, that his face carried such a hallowed expression that people were known to fall on their knees and accept Jesus Christ as Savior when they looked at him. Others were so attracted by the self-giving beauty and holiness of his life that they found his Master irresistible.
It was also said of the French pietist Francois Fenelon that his communion with God was such that his face shined with divine radiance. The story is told of the time when the great missionary to Burma, Adoniram Judson, or here was home on furlough, and happened to pass through the city of Stonington, Connecticut. Never before had he seen such a light on any human face. He ran up the street to a minister to ask if he knew who the stranger was. The minister hurried back with him, but became so absorbed in conversation with Judson that he forgot all about the impatient youngster standing near him.
Many years afterward that boy—who could never get away from the influence of that wonderful face—became the famous preacher Henry Clay Trumbull. In a book of memoirs Trumbull penned a chapter entitled:. That lighted countenance had changed his life. Even as flowers thrive when they bend to the light, so shining, radiant faces come to those who constantly turn toward Christ! Ye are the light of the world, Causing the clouds to depart, Throwing the sunshine of peace Down on the poor burdened heart.
Then let your light ever shine, Hallow the Name that is love; You will each shine as a star, Fixed in the orbit above. This is where the hot clips of the upcoming movies are shown. The cuts of the movies are always of the most exciting scenes: The moviemakers show you the best clips because they want you to tune in to the whole show. Now, the movie itself may actually be terrible, but you'll never know it by the clips! One day there is a big show coming to town. It will be a worldwide production.
In the meantime, God has left you and me here as previews of the coming attractions. As disciples of Christ, we're supposed to be the hot clips of the upcoming show, so that when people see our clips, they conclude the show must be hot. From watching our previews, people should raise the question, "Where can I buy a ticket to the show? Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes. Seeing the Gospel - A man once asked a new acquaintance in a remote area of the world, "Have you ever heard the Gospel? Never have I seen such a change in a person! Before he met the man of God, alcohol ruled his life.
He was lazy, neglected his family, and showed no interest in anyone else. Since then, however, his manner of living is completely different. He is no longer a slave to liquor. He works hard and is a good husband and father. I would be proud to have him as my neighbor. Yes, I have seen the Gospel and like it so well I would now like to hear it! To be faithful in our witness for Christ, it is essential that the message of His saving grace and transforming power be shown as well as told.
If our deeds contradict our words, we might better remain silent. May the example of our lives be so consistent with the testimony of our lips that no one could ever say to us, "Your actions speak so loud that I can't hear what. The world is watching us with a critical eye. Jesus bids us shine with a clear, pure light, Like a little candle burning in the night, In this world of darkness we must shine, You in your small corner, and I in mine.
Jesus bids us shine, first of all for Him; Well He sees and knows it if our light is dim; He looks down from Heaven, sees us shine, You in your small corner; and I in mine! To glorify God is the highest ambition of angels. The brightest seraph before the throne has no higher aim, no greater happiness, than to bring glory to his name.
And yet a poor sinner on earth may glorify God as much, and in some way more, than the brightest angel in the courts of eternal bliss. What different views the eyes of God and the eyes of men take of events passing on the earth. What glory is brought to God by all the victories gained by one country over another?
I have thought sometimes that a poor old man, or feeble, decrepit woman, lying on a workhouse pallet, fighting with sin, self and Satan, yet enabled amid all to look to the Lord Jesus, and by a word from His lips overcoming death and hell, though when dead thrust into an cheap coffin, to rot in a pauper's grave, brings more glory to God than all the exploits of Nelson or Wellington, and that such victories are more glorious than those of Waterloo or Trafalgar. It is true that the parish officers will not proclaim such a victory; nor will bells ring or cannons roar at such exploits; but the God of heaven and earth may get more glory from such a despised creature, than from all the generals and admirals who have ever drawn up armies in battle, or sunk hostile fleets beneath the wave.
Truly does the Lord say, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. It is indeed astonishing that glory should be brought to His great name by what His people do and suffer upon earth; that their feeble attempts to believe, to love, and to hope in Him; to speak well of His name; and to adorn His doctrine in their life and conversation, should redound to His honor and praise.
Wondrous indeed is it that a poor, insignificant worm, whom perhaps his fellow-mortal will scarcely deign to look at, or passes by with a shrug of contempt, should add glory to the great God that inhabits eternity, before Whom the highest angels and brightest seraphs bow with holy adoration!
What are all the glorious exploits that men are so proud of, compared with the tribute of glory rendered to God by his suffering saints? You may feel yourself one of the poorest, vilest, neediest worms of earth; and yet if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ with a living faith, hope in His mercy, love His dear name, and in your vocation adorn His doctrine by a godly, consistent life, you are privileged above princes and nobles, yes, even above crowned heads, and all the glory of man, because you are bringing glory to God.
It matters not what may be your station in life. You may be a servant, master, wife, husband, child; your rank and station may be high or low; but whatever it be, still in it you may bring glory to God. If a servant, by obedience, cleanliness, industry, and attention to the directions of your master or mistress. If a master or mistress, by kindness and liberality to your dependents, and doing all that you can to render the yoke of servitude light. There is not a single Christian who may not glorify God, though in worldly circumstances he be, or seem to be, totally insignificant.
Glory is brought to God by those who live and walk in his fear, and more sometimes by the poor than by the rich. Only adorn the doctrine of God in all things, and you will bring glory to God in all things. Daily Words for Zion's Wayfarers. In his pithy, penetrating devotional Daily Walking with God , Octavius Winslow has the following thoughts on Matthew 5: LET your life be a clear reflection of the glory of the Redeemer. The saints of God are the only witnesses to this glory—the only reflectors the Lord has in this dark and Christ-denying world.
Holiness, springing from the fount of the Spirit's indwelling grace, cherished and matured by close views of the Cross, and imparting a character of sanctity of beauty to every act of your life, will be the highest testimony you can bear to the Redeemer's glory. That glory is entrusted to your hands. It is committed to your guardianship. Seeing, then, that it is so, "what manner of people ought you to be, in all holy conversation and godliness!
How exact in principles, and upright in conduct—how watchful over temper, and how vigilant where most assailed—how broad awake to the wiles of the devil, and how sleepless against the encroachments of sin—how strict in all transactions with the world, and how tender, charitable, meek, and forgiving, in all our conduct with the saints!
We are unworthy and unfaithful depositories of so rich a treasure! How much of clinging infirmity, on unmortified sin, of carelessness of spirit, of unsanctified temper, of tampering with temptation, of a lack of strict integrity of uprightness, dims our light, neutralizes our testimony for God, and weakens, if not entirely destroys, our moral influence! We are not more eminently useful, because we are not more eminently holy. We reflect so faint and flickering a beam, because our posture is so seldom that of the apocalyptic angel.
We realize so imperfectly our oneness with, and standing in, Christ; and this will ever foster a feeble, fruitless, and drooping profession of Christianity. Does the world persecute them—do the "daughters of Jerusalem" smite them—does the watchman treat them unkindly? He bids them take refuge within the hallowed sanctuary of His own pierced and loving heart. Do they need grace? He bids them sink their empty vessel beneath the depths of His ocean fullness, and draw freely "more grace.
Whatever corruptions distress them, whatever temptations assail them, whatever adversity grieves them, whatever cloud darkens them, whatever necessity presses upon them, as a watchful Shepherd, as a tender Brother, as a faithful Friend, as a great High Priest, He bids His saints draw near, and repose in His love. Oh, He has a capacious bosom; there is room, there is a chamber in that heart for you, my Christian reader.
Do not think your lot is desolate, lonely, and friendless. Do not think that all have forsaken you, and that in sadness and in solitude you are treading your way through an intricate desert. There is One that loves you, that thinks of you, that has His eye upon you, and is at this moment guiding, upholding, and caring for you; that one is—Jesus!
Oh that you could but look into His heart, and see how He loves you; oh that you could but hear Him say so gently, so earnestly, "Abide in my love. Your Shepherd guides you; the Comforter spreads around you His wings, and heaven is bright before you. Soon you will be there. The pilgrim will repose his weary limbs; the voyager will be moored in his harbor of rest; the warrior will put off his armor, and shout his song of triumph. If God is for you, who can be against you? And if you find disappointment in created good, it will but endear Jesus; if you know more of the inward plague, it will but drive you to the atoning blood; if you have storms and tempests, they will but shorten the voyage, and waft you the quicker to glory.
Daily Walking with God. I do not understand it, but I believe that for us as Christians there is a glory awaiting us that involves, in some way, an even greater shining forth. I do not know if we will be watts or , , or 1,! We might be like fireflies or we might be like supernovas. But somehow we are going to enter into the fame and approval of God, and we will be glorious beings, far beyond all imagination.
But at the same time we are light right now. Jesus says, "You [you alone] are the light of the world. No, not even John the Baptist was that; there is only one true Light, "which lighteth every man that cometh into the world," even He who is the Life of men. We are lights; He is "that Light. Centuries ago that Sun shone in this world, without a dimming cloud between His glory and the world of men, save the veil of His flesh; but so far as the world was concerned there was sunset, while it was yet noon, on Calvary, and we have been summoned to take up His mission and shine as stars in the midnight sky, or as candles in the darkened home, until the first beams of the eternal morning break on the Alpine summits of time, white with the snows of millenniums.
It is interesting to apply the analogy between the Disciples of Christ and candles or lamps. By nature we are like so many unlighted candies. As the candle is adapted to catch the light, but stands dark and cold until the wick is ignited, so have our natures been made to burn and shine with the nature of God, but they are unable to produce light of themselves, and remain cold and dark until kindled from the eternal Nature of Him who is Light, and in" whom is no darkness at all. In your case it may be of gold, silver, or china. It may be exquisitely chased, or of the commonest possible manufacture.
The most ornate is incapable of producing the Light, and will be set aside in favour of the commonest dip stuck on the end of a piece of wood if only that has caught the precious Light of which the other is destitute. The Pharisees and Scribes of our Lord's time were like handsome candelabra, which gave no ray of light to the thick darkness of their age; whilst His disciples, humble fishermen, shone with a light which has irradiated all succeeding time. O soul of man, have you been lighted?
Have you come in contact with Christ, or with one of His servants in whom His nature has shown, or with His Word, which may be compared to a box of Lucifer matches, because all the potentiality of fire and light slumbers until called into requisition? If not, stand expectant and eager; cry to Him, "Light me, O Light of Life, and let my nature henceforth have no other purpose than to shine on earth as Thou shinest in the Eternal Glory, emitting a radiance of the same nature and yielding the same prism as Thine own.
Christ was the Light of men, not primarily because He wrought miracles and spoke wonderful words, but because He lived! He was the Light of Nazareth, because He lived within the circumference of its hills for thirty silent years. Galilee of the Gentiles "the people which sat in darkness" saw a great Light, because "He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea.
It must be so with us; we shine by what we are. We shine as there is less of the wick of our own nature, and more of the flame of His. We shine when we are unselfish, when we "do all things without murmurings and disputings "; when we are "blameless and harmless children of God without blemish" Phil. Though you were never to speak a word you might still fulfil the greatest mission and ministry of your life, if only you would live as Christ lived. The Baptist shone because he burnt. His light cost him life.
On one occasion he said, "I must decrease"; probably his ministry lasted but a few months. The light he gave was so brilliant that it exhausted him prematurely. There can be no true shining without burning. The light that cost you nothing is hardly worth the giving. You ought to be burning down to the socket, as you spend and are spent for others. Your zeal for God's house should burn you up. Burning also stands for heat.
John was fervent, intense, passionate, in his devotion. Role of business owners and management. Role of the free market b. Action of the State c. Role of intermediate bodies d. Savings and consumer goods. The international financial system c. Role of the international community in an era of a global economy d. An integral development in solidarity e. Need for more educational and cultural formation. Jesus and political authority c. The early Christian communities.
Political community, the human person and a people b. Defending and promoting human rights c. Social life based on civil friendship. The foundation of political authority b. Authority as moral force c. The right to conscientious objection d. The right to resist e. Values and democracy b. Institutions and democracy c. Moral components of political representation d. Instruments for political participation e. Value of civil society b. Priority of civil society c. Application of the principle of subsidiarity.
Religious freedom, a fundamental human right B. The Catholic Church and the political community. Autonomy and independence b. Unity of the human family b. Jesus Christ, prototype and foundation of the new humanity c. The universal vocation of Christianity. The international community and values b. Relations based on harmony between the juridical and moral orders. The value of international organizations b. The juridical personality of the Holy See. Cooperation to guarantee the right to development b. The fight against poverty c. The environment, a collective good b. The use of biotechnology c.
The environment and the sharing of goods d. The duty to protect the innocent d. Measures against those who threaten peace e. The condemnation of terrorism. Social doctrine and the inculturation of faith b. Social doctrine and social pastoral activity c. Social doctrine and formation d. The subjects of social pastoral activity. The lay faithful b. Spirituality of the lay faithful c. Acting with prudence d.
Social doctrine and lay associations e. Service in the various sectors of social life. Service to the human person 2. Service in culture 3. Service in the economy 4. The help that the Church offers to modern man b. Starting afresh from faith in Christ c. A solid hope d. Index of references Analytical index. Letter Apostolic Letter c. Letter Encyclical Letter ibid. Continuing to expound and update the rich patrimony of Catholic social doctrine, Pope John Paul II has for his part published three great Encyclicals — Laborem Exercens , Sollicitudo Rei Socialis and Centesimus Annus — that represent fundamental stages of Catholic thought in this area.
For their part, numerous Bishops in every part of the world have contributed in recent times to a deeper understanding of the Church's social doctrine. Numerous scholars on every continent have done the same. It was therefore hoped that a compendium of all this material should be compiled, systematically presenting the foundations of Catholic social doctrine. It is commendable that the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has taken up this task, devoting intense efforts to this initiative in recent years.
This work also shows the value of Catholic social doctrine as an instrument of evangelization cf. Centesimus Annus , 54 , because it places the human person and society in relationship with the light of the Gospel. The principles of the Church's social doctrine, which are based on the natural law, are then seen to be confirmed and strengthened, in the faith of the Church, by the Gospel of Christ.
In this light, men and women are invited above all to discover themselves as transcendent beings, in every dimension of their lives, including those related to social, economic and political contexts. Faith brings to fullness the meaning of the family, which, founded on marriage between one man and one woman, constitutes the first and vital cell of society.
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
It moreover sheds light on the dignity of work, which, as human activity destined to bring human beings to fulfilment, has priority over capital and confirms their rightful claim to share in the fruits that result from work. In the present text we can see the importance of moral values, founded on the natural law written on every human conscience; every human conscience is hence obliged to recognize and respect this law.
Humanity today seeks greater justice in dealing with the vast phenomenon of globalization; it has a keen concern for ecology and a correct management of public affairs; it senses the need to safeguard national consciences, without losing sight however of the path of law and the awareness of the unity of the human family. The world of work, profoundly changed by the advances of modern technology, reveals extraordinary levels of quality, but unfortunately it must also acknowledge new forms of instability, exploitation and even slavery within the very societies that are considered affluent.
In different areas of the planet the level of well-being continues to grow, but there is also a dangerous increase in the numbers of those who are becoming poor, and, for various reasons, the gap between less developed and rich countries is widening. The free market, an economic process with positive aspects, is nonetheless showing its limitations. On the other hand, the preferential love for the poor represents a fundamental choice for the Church, and she proposes it to all people of good will. Contemporary cultural and social issues involve above all the lay faithful, who are called, as the Second Vatican Council reminds us, to deal with temporal affairs and order them according to God's will cf.
Lumen Gentium , We can therefore easily understand the fundamental importance of the formation of the laity, so that the holiness of their lives and the strength of their witness will contribute to human progress. This document intends to help them in this daily mission. Moreover, it is interesting to note how the many elements brought together here are shared by other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, as well as by other Religions. The text has been presented in such a way as to be useful not only from within ab intra , that is among Catholics, but also from outside ab extra.
In fact, those who share the same Baptism with us, as well as the followers of other Religions and all people of good will, can find herein fruitful occasions for reflection and a common motivation for the integral development of every person and the whole person. The Holy Father, while hoping that the present document will help humanity in its active quest for the common good, invokes God's blessings on those who will take the time to reflect on the teachings of this publication.
In expressing my own personal good wishes for the success of this endeavour, I congratulate Your Eminence and your collaborators at the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace for the important work carried out, and with sentiments of respect I remain.
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I am pleased to present the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church , which, according to the request received from the Holy Father, has been drawn up in order to give a concise but complete overview of the Church's social teaching. Transforming social realities with the power of the Gospel, to which witness is borne by women and men faithful to Jesus Christ, has always been a challenge and it remains so today at the beginning of the third millennium of the Christian era. For this very reason the men and women of our day have greater need than ever of the Gospel: The reading of these pages is suggested above all in order to sustain and foster the activity of Christians in the social sector, especially the activity of the lay faithful to whom this area belongs in a particular way; the whole of their lives must be seen as a work of evangelization that produces fruit.
Every believer must learn first of all to obey the Lord with the strength of faith, following the example of Saint Peter: This work, entrusted to me and now offered to those who will read it, carries therefore the seal of a great witness to the Cross who remained strong in faith in the dark and terrible years of Vietnam. This witness will know of our gratitude for all his precious labour, undertaken with love and dedication, and he will bless those who stop to reflect on these pages. I invoke the intercession of Saint Joseph, Guardian of the Redeemer and Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patron of the Universal Church and of Work, so that this text will bear abundant fruit in the life of society as an instrument for the proclamation of the Gospel, for justice and for peace.
At the dawn of the Third Millennium. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life cf. The Church continues to speak to all people and all nations, for it is only in the name of Christ that salvation is given to men and women. At the dawn of this Third Millennium, the Church does not tire of proclaiming the Gospel that brings salvation and genuine freedom also to temporal realities. She is mindful of the solemn exhortation given by Saint Paul to his disciple Timothy: For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.
To the people of our time, her travelling companions, the Church also offers her social doctrine. This doctrine has its own profound unity, which flows from Faith in a whole and complete salvation, from Hope in a fullness of justice, and from Love which makes all mankind truly brothers and sisters in Christ: Discovering that they are loved by God, people come to understand their own transcendent dignity, they learn not to be satisfied with only themselves but to encounter their neighbour in a network of relationships that are ever more authentically human.
They are people capable of bringing peace where there is conflict, of building and nurturing fraternal relationships where there is hatred, of seeking justice where there prevails the exploitation of man by man. Only love is capable of radically transforming the relationships that men maintain among themselves. This is the perspective that allows every person of good will to perceive the broad horizons of justice and human development in truth and goodness.
Love faces a vast field of work and the Church is eager to make her contribution with her social doctrine, which concerns the whole person and is addressed to all people. So many needy brothers and sisters are waiting for help, so many who are oppressed are waiting for justice, so many who are unemployed are waiting for a job, so many peoples are waiting for respect. Lacking the most basic medical care? Without a roof over their head? The scenario of poverty can extend indefinitely, if in addition to its traditional forms we think of its newer patterns. These latter often affect financially affluent sectors and groups which are nevertheless threatened by despair at the lack of meaning in their lives, by drug addiction, by fear of abandonment in old age or sickness, by marginalization or social discrimination And how can we remain indifferent to the prospect of an ecological crisis which is making vast areas of our planet uninhabitable and hostile to humanity?
Or by the problems of peace, so often threatened by the spectre of catastrophic wars? Or by contempt for the fundamental human rights of so many people, especially children? Christian love leads to denunciation, proposals and a commitment to cultural and social projects; it prompts positive activity that inspires all who sincerely have the good of man at heart to make their contribution. Humanity is coming to understand ever more clearly that it is linked by one sole destiny that requires joint acceptance of responsibility, a responsibility inspired by an integral and shared humanism.
It sees that this mutual destiny is often conditioned and even imposed by technological and economic factors, and it senses the need for a greater moral awareness that will guide its common journey. Marvelling at the many innovations of technology, the men and women of our day strongly desire that progress be directed towards the true good of the humanity, both of today and tomorrow.
The significance of this document. The Christian knows that in the social doctrine of the Church can be found the principles for reflection, the criteria for judgment and the directives for action which are the starting point for the promotion of an integral and solidary humanism. Making this doctrine known constitutes, therefore, a genuine pastoral priority , so that men and women will be enlightened by it and will be thus enabled to interpret today's reality and seek appropriate paths of action: It is in this light that the publication of a document providing the fundamental elements of the social doctrine of the Church, showing the relationship between this doctrine and the new evangelization , appeared to be so useful.
The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which has drawn up the present document and is fully responsible for its content, prepared the text in a broad-based consultation with its own Members and Consulters, with different Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, with the Bishops' Conferences of various countries, with individual Bishops and with experts on the issues addressed.
This document intends to present in a complete and systematic manner, even if by means of an overview, the Church's social teaching, which is the fruit of careful Magisterial reflection and an expression of the Church's constant commitment in fidelity to the grace of salvation wrought in Christ and in loving concern for humanity's destiny.
Herein the most relevant theological, philosophical, moral, cultural and pastoral considerations of this teaching are systematically presented as they relate to social questions. In this way, witness is borne to the fruitfulness of the encounter between the Gospel and the problems that mankind encounters on its journey through history.
In studying this Compendium, it is good to keep in mind that the citations of Magisterial texts are taken from documents of differing authority. Alongside council documents and encyclicals there are also papal addresses and documents drafted by offices of the Holy See. As one knows, but it seems to bear repeating, the reader should be aware that different levels of teaching authority are involved.
The document limits itself to putting forth the fundamental elements of the Church's social doctrine, leaving to Episcopal Conferences the task of making the appropriate applications as required by the different local situations. This document offers a complete overview of the fundamental framework of the doctrinal corpus of Catholic social teaching.
This overview allows us to address appropriately the social issues of our day, which must be considered as a whole, since they are characterized by an ever greater interconnectedness, influencing one another mutually and becoming increasingly a matter of concern for the entire human family. The exposition of the Church's social doctrine is meant to suggest a systematic approach for finding solutions to problems, so that discernment, judgment and decisions will correspond to reality, and so that solidarity and hope will have a greater impact on the complexities of current situations.
These principles, in fact, are interrelated and shed light on one another mutually, insofar as they are an expression of Christian anthropology, fruits of the revelation of God's love for the human person. However, it must not be forgotten that the passing of time and the changing of social circumstances will require a constant updating of the reflections on the various issues raised here, in order to interpret the new signs of the times.
The document is presented as an instrument for the moral and pastoral discernment of the complex events that mark our time; as a guide to inspire, at the individual and collective levels, attitudes and choices that will permit all people to look to the future with greater trust and hope ; as an aid for the faithful concerning the Church's teaching in the area of social morality. From this there can spring new strategies suited to the demands of our time and in keeping with human needs and resources. In short, the text is proposed as an incentive for dialogue with all who sincerely desire the good of mankind.
This document is intended first of all for Bishops, who will determine the most suitable methods for making it known and for interpreting it correctly. Priests, men and women religious , and, in general, those responsible for formation will find herein a guide for their teaching and a tool for their pastoral service.
Christian communities will be able to look to this document for assistance in analyzing situations objectively, in clarifying them in the light of the unchanging words of the Gospel, in drawing principles for reflection, criteria for judgment and guidelines for action. This document is proposed also to the brethren of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, to the followers of other religions, as well as to all people of good will who are committed to serving the common good: It is a treasury of things old and new cf.
It is a sign of hope in the fact that religions and cultures today show openness to dialogue and sense the urgent need to join forces in promoting justice, fraternity, peace and the growth of the human person. The Catholic Church joins her own commitment to that made in the social field by other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, whether at the level of doctrinal reflection or at the practical level. Together with them, the Catholic Church is convinced that from the common heritage of social teachings preserved by the living tradition of the people of God there will come motivations and orientations for an ever closer cooperation in the promotion of justice and peace.
At the service of the full truth about man. By means of the present document, the Church intends to offer a contribution of truth to the question of man's place in nature and in human society, a question faced by civilizations and cultures in which expressions of human wisdom are found. Rooted in a past that is often thousands of years old and manifesting themselves in forms of religion, philosophy and poetic genius of every time and of every people, these civilizations and cultures offer their own interpretation of the universe and of human society, and seek an understanding of existence and of the mystery that surrounds it.
Why is there pain, evil, death, despite all the progress that has been made? What is the value of so many accomplishments if the cost has been unbearable? What will there be after this life? These are the basic questions that characterize the course of human life. The direction that human existence, society and history will take depends largely on the answers given to the questions of man's place in nature and society; the purpose of the present document is to make a contribution to these answers.
The deepest meaning of human existence, in fact, is revealed in the free quest for that truth capable of giving direction and fullness to life. The aforementioned questions incessantly draw human intelligence and the human will to this quest. They are the highest expression of human nature, since they require a response that measures the depth of an individual's commitment to his own existence.
Moreover, it is dealt here with questions that are essentially religious: The fundamental questions accompanying the human journey from the very beginning take on even greater significance in our own day, because of the enormity of the challenges, the novelty of the situations and the importance of the decisions facing modern generations. The first of the great challenges facing humanity today is that of the truth itself of the being who is man. The boundary and relation between nature, technology and morality are issues that decisively summon personal and collective responsibility with regard to the attitudes to adopt concerning what human beings are, what they are able to accomplish and what they should be.
A second challenge is found in the understanding and management of pluralism and differences at every level: The third challenge is globalization , the significance of which is much wider and more profound than simple economic globalization, since history has witnessed the opening of a new era that concerns humanity's destiny. The disciples of Jesus Christ feel that they are involved with these questions; they too carry them within their hearts and wish to commit themselves, together with all men and women, to the quest for the truth and the meaning of life lived both as individual persons and as a society.
They contribute to this quest by their generous witness to the free and extraordinary gift that humanity has received: God has spoken his Word to men and women throughout history; indeed he himself has entered history in order to enter into dialogue with humanity and to reveal to mankind his plan of salvation, justice and brotherhood. In Jesus Christ, his Son made man, God has freed us from sin and has shown us the path we are to walk and the goal towards which we are to strive.
The Church journeys along the roads of history together with all of humanity. She lives in the world, and although not of the world cf. This attitude, found also in the present document, is based on the deep conviction that just as it is important for the world to recognize the Church as a reality of history and a leaven in history, so too is it important for the Church to recognize what she has received from history and from the development of the human race. The Church, the sign in history of God's love for mankind and of the vocation of the whole human race to unity as children of the one Father , intends with this document on her social doctrine to propose to all men and women a humanism that is up to the standards of God's plan of love in history, an integral and solidary humanism capable of creating a new social, economic and political order, founded on the dignity and freedom of every human person, to be brought about in peace, justice and solidarity.
This humanism can become a reality if individual men and women and their communities are able to cultivate moral and social virtues in themselves and spread them in society. Centesimus Annus , Every authentic religious experience, in all cultural traditions, leads to an intuition of the Mystery that, not infrequently, is able to recognize some aspect of God's face. On the one hand, God is seen as the origin of what exists , as the presence that guarantees to men and women organized in a society the basic conditions of life, placing at their disposal the goods that are necessary.
On the other hand, he appears as the measure of what should be , as the presence that challenges human action — both at the personal and at the social levels — regarding the use of those very goods in relation to other people. In every religious experience, therefore, importance attaches to the dimension of gift and gratuitousness , which is seen as an underlying element of the experience that the human beings have of their existence together with others in the world, as well as to the repercussions of this dimension on the human conscience, which senses that it is called to manage responsibly and together with others the gift received.
Proof of this is found in the universal recognition of the golden rule , which expresses on the level of human relations the injunction addressed by the Mystery to men and women: Against the background of universal religious experience, in which humanity shares in different ways, God's progressive revelation of himself to the people of Israel stands out. This revelation responds to the human quest for the divine in an unexpected and surprising way, thanks to the historical manner — striking and penetrating — in which God's love for man is made concrete. According to the Book of Exodus, the Lord speaks these words to Moses: These become historical action, which is the origin of the manner in which the Lord's people collectively identify themselves, through the acquisition of freedom and the land that the Lord gives them.
The gratuitousness of this historically efficacious divine action is constantly accompanied by the commitment to the covenant, proposed by God and accepted by Israel. On Mount Sinai, God's initiative becomes concrete in the covenant with his people, to whom is given the Decalogue of the commandments revealed by the Lord cf. Moral existence is a response to the Lord's loving initiative. It is the acknowledgment and homage given to God and a worship of thanksgiving. The Ten Commandments, which constitute an extraordinary path of life and indicate the surest way for living in freedom from slavery to sin, contain a privileged expression of the natural law.
They describe universal human morality. In the Gospel, Jesus reminds the rich young man that the Ten Commandments cf. There comes from the Decalogue a commitment that concerns not only fidelity to the one true God, but also the social relations among the people of the Covenant. These relations are regulated, in particular, by what has been called the right of the poor: All of this applies also to strangers: The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: The gift of freedom and the Promised Land, and the gift of the Covenant on Sinai and the Ten Commandments are therefore intimately linked to the practices which must regulate, in justice and solidarity, the development of Israelite society.
Among the many norms which tend to give concrete expression to the style of gratuitousness and sharing in justice which God inspires, the law of the sabbatical year celebrated every seven years and that of the jubilee year celebrated every fifty years  stand out as important guidelines — unfortunately never fully put into effect historically — for the social and economic life of the people of Israel. Besides requiring fields to lie fallow, these laws call for the cancellation of debts and a general release of persons and goods: This legislation is designed to ensure that the salvific event of the Exodus and fidelity to the Covenant represents not only the founding principle of Israel's social, political and economic life, but also the principle for dealing with questions concerning economic poverty and social injustices.
This principle is invoked in order to transform, continuously and from within, the life of the people of the Covenant, so that this life will correspond to God's plan. To eliminate the discrimination and economic inequalities caused by socio-economic changes, every seven years the memory of the Exodus and the Covenant are translated into social and juridical terms, in order to bring the concepts of property, debts, loans and goods back to their deepest meaning.
The precepts of the sabbatical and jubilee years constitute a kind of social doctrine in miniature . They show how the principles of justice and social solidarity are inspired by the gratuitousness of the salvific event wrought by God, and that they do not have a merely corrective value for practices dominated by selfish interests and objectives, but must rather become, as a prophecy of the future, the normative points of reference to which every generation in Israel must conform if it wishes to be faithful to its God.
These principles become the focus of the Prophets' preaching, which seeks to internalize them. God's Spirit, poured into the human heart — the Prophets proclaim — will make these same sentiments of justice and solidarity, which reside in the Lord's heart, take root in you cf. Then God's will, articulated in the Decalogue given on Sinai, will be able to take root creatively in man's innermost being. This process of internalization gives rise to greater depth and realism in social action, making possible the progressive universalization of attitudes of justice and solidarity , which the people of the Covenant are called to have towards all men and women of every people and nation.
The reflection of the Prophets and that found in the Wisdom Literature, in coming to the formulation of the principle that all things were created by God, touch on the first manifestation and the source itself of God's plan for the whole of humanity.
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In Israel's profession of faith, to affirm that God is Creator does not mean merely expressing a theoretical conviction, but also grasping the original extent of the Lord's gratuitous and merciful action on behalf of man. In fact, God freely confers being and life on everything that exists. Man and woman, created in his image and likeness cf. It is in the free action of God the Creator that we find the very meaning of creation, even if it has been distorted by the experience of sin. In fact, the narrative of the first sin cf. Disobedience to God means hiding from his loving countenance and seeking to control one's life and action in the world.
Breaking the relation of communion with God causes a rupture in the internal unity of the human person, in the relations of communion between man and woman and of the harmonious relations between mankind and other creatures. It is in this original estrangement that are to be sought the deepest roots of all the evils that afflict social relations between people, of all the situations in economic and political life that attack the dignity of the person, that assail justice and solidarity. In Jesus Christ the decisive event of the history of God with mankind is fulfilled.
The benevolence and mercy that inspire God's actions and provide the key for understanding them become so very much closer to man that they take on the traits of the man Jesus, the Word made flesh. In the Gospel of Saint Luke, Jesus describes his messianic ministry with the words of Isaiah which recall the prophetic significance of the jubilee: Jesus therefore places himself on the frontline of fulfilment, not only because he fulfils what was promised and what was awaited by Israel, but also in the deeper sense that in him the decisive event of the history of God with mankind is fulfilled.
Jesus, in other words, is the tangible and definitive manifestation of how God acts towards men and women. The love that inspires Jesus' ministry among men is the love that he has experienced in his intimate union with the Father. Jesus announces the liberating mercy of God to those whom he meets on his way, beginning with the poor, the marginalized, the sinners. He invites all to follow him because he is the first to obey God's plan of love, and he does so in a most singular way, as God's envoy in the world. Jesus' self-awareness of being the Son is an expression of this primordial experience.
The Son has been given everything, and freely so, by the Father: His in turn is the mission of making all men sharers in this gift and in this filial relationship: For Jesus, recognizing the Father's love means modelling his actions on God's gratuitousness and mercy; it is these that generate new life. It means becoming — by his very existence — the example and pattern of this for his disciples. Jesus' followers are called to live like him and, after his Passover of death and resurrection, to live also in him and by him , thanks to the superabundant gift of the Holy Spirit, the Consoler, who internalizes Christ's own style of life in human hearts.
With the unceasing amazement of those who have experienced the inexpressible love of God cf. He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him? Similar language is used also by Saint John: The Face of God, progressively revealed in the history of salvation, shines in its fullness in the Face of Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; truly distinct and truly one, because God is an infinite communion of love. God's gratuitous love for humanity is revealed, before anything else, as love springing from the Father, from whom everything draws its source; as the free communication that the Son makes of this love, giving himself anew to the Father and giving himself to mankind; as the ever new fruitfulness of divine love that the Holy Spirit pours forth into the hearts of men cf. By his words and deeds, and fully and definitively by his death and resurrection , Jesus reveals to humanity that God is Father and that we are all called by grace to become his children in the Spirit cf.
Meditating on the gratuitousness and superabundance of the Father's divine gift of the Son, which Jesus taught and bore witness to by giving his life for us, the Apostle John grasps its profound meaning and its most logical consequence. The commandment of mutual love shows how to live in Christ the Trinitarian life within the Church, the Body of Christ, and how to transform history until it reaches its fulfilment in the heavenly Jerusalem.
The commandment of mutual love, which represents the law of life for God's people , must inspire, purify and elevate all human relationships in society and in politics. Trinitarian love, the origin and goal of the human person. The revelation in Christ of the mystery of God as Trinitarian love is at the same time the revelation of the vocation of the human person to love.
This revelation sheds light on every aspect of the personal dignity and freedom of men and women, and on the depths of their social nature. In the communion of love that is God, and in which the Three Divine Persons mutually love one another and are the One God, the human person is called to discover the origin and goal of his existence and of history.
It follows, then, that if man is the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake, man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself cf. Christian revelation shines a new light on the identity, the vocation and the ultimate destiny of the human person and the human race. Every person is created by God, loved and saved in Jesus Christ, and fulfils himself by creating a network of multiple relationships of love, justice and solidarity with other persons while he goes about his various activities in the world.
Human activity, when it aims at promoting the integral dignity and vocation of the person, the quality of living conditions and the meeting in solidarity of peoples and nations, is in accordance with the plan of God, who does not fail to show his love and providence to his children. The pages of the first book of Sacred Scripture, which describe the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God cf. The Book of Genesis provides us with certain foundations of Christian anthropology: This vision of the human person, of society and of history is rooted in God and is ever more clearly seen when his plan of salvation becomes a reality.
The salvation offered in its fullness to men in Jesus Christ by God the Father's initiative, and brought about and transmitted by the work of the Holy Spirit, is salvation for all people and of the whole person: It concerns the human person in all his dimensions: It begins to be made a reality already in history, because what is created is good and willed by God, and because the Son of God became one of us.
Its completion, however, is in the future, when we shall be called, together with all creation cf. Rom 8 , to share in Christ's resurrection and in the eternal communion of life with the Father in the joy of the Holy Spirit. This outlook shows quite clearly the error and deception of purely immanentistic visions of the meaning of history and in humanity's claims to self-salvation. The salvation offered by God to his children requires their free response and acceptance. In fact, the divine plan of salvation does not consign human creatures to a state of mere passivity or of lesser status in relation to their Creator, because their relationship to God, whom Jesus Christ reveals to us and in whom he freely makes us sharers by the working of the Holy Spirit, is that of a child to its parent: Jn ; Gal 4: The universality and integrality of the salvation wrought by Christ makes indissoluble the link between the relationship that the person is called to have with God and the responsibility he has towards his neighbour in the concrete circumstances of history.
This is sensed, though not always without some confusion or misunderstanding, in humanity's universal quest for truth and meaning, and it becomes the cornerstone of God's covenant with Israel, as attested by the tablets of the Law and the preaching of the Prophets. This link finds a clear and precise expression in the teaching of Jesus Christ and is definitively confirmed by the supreme witness of the giving of his life, in obedience to the Father's will and out of love for his brothers and sisters.
The second is this: Inextricably linked in the human heart are the relationship with God — recognized as Creator and Father, the source and fulfilment of life and of salvation — and openness in concrete love towards man, who must be treated as another self, even if he is an enemy cf. In man's inner dimension are rooted, in the final analysis, the commitment to justice and solidarity, to the building up of a social, economic and political life that corresponds to God's plan.
The disciple of Christ as a new creation. Personal and social life, as well as human action in the world, is always threatened by sin. Christ's disciple adheres, in faith and through the sacraments, to Jesus' Paschal Mystery, so that his old self , with its evil inclinations, is crucified with Christ.
The inner transformation of the human person, in his being progressively conformed to Christ, is the necessary prerequisite for a real transformation of his relationships with others. It is not possible to love one's neighbour as oneself and to persevere in this conduct without the firm and constant determination to work for the good of all people and of each person, because we are all really responsible for everyone . This path requires grace, which God offers to man in order to help him to overcome failings, to snatch him from the spiral of lies and violence, to sustain him and prompt him to restore with an ever new and ready spirit the network of authentic and honest relationships with his fellow men.
Even the relationship with the created universe and human activity aimed at tending it and transforming it, activity which is daily endangered by man's pride and his inordinate self-love, must be purified and perfected by the cross and resurrection of Christ. Man thanks his divine benefactor for all these things, he uses them and enjoys them in a spirit of poverty and freedom.
Thus he is brought to a true possession of the world, as having nothing yet possessing everything: Jesus Christ is the Son of God made man in whom and thanks to whom the world and man attain their authentic and full truth. The mystery of God's being infinitely close to man — brought about in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, who gave himself on the cross, abandoning himself to death — shows that the more that human realities are seen in the light of God's plan and lived in communion with God, the more they are empowered and liberated in their distinctive identity and in the freedom that is proper to them.
Sharing in Christ's life of sonship, made possible by the Incarnation and the Paschal gift of the Spirit, far from being a mortification, has the effect of unleashing the authentic and independent traits and identity that characterize human beings in all their various expressions. This perspective leads to a correct approach to earthly realities and their autonomy , which is strongly emphasized by the teaching of the Second Vatican Council: For by the very circumstance of their having been created, all things are endowed with their own stability, truth, goodness, proper laws and order.
There is no state of conflict between God and man, but a relationship of love in which the world and the fruits of human activity in the world are objects of mutual gift between the Father and his children, and among the children themselves, in Christ Jesus; in Christ and thanks to him the world and man attain their authentic and inherent meaning. In a universal vision of God's love that embraces everything that exists, God himself is revealed to us in Christ as Father and giver of life, and man as the one who, in Christ, receives everything from God as gift, humbly and freely, and who truly possesses everything as his own when he knows and experiences everything as belonging to God, originating in God and moving towards God.
In this regard, the Second Vatican Council teaches: The human person, in himself and in his vocation, transcends the limits of the created universe, of society and of history: The human person cannot and must not be manipulated by social, economic or political structures, because every person has the freedom to direct himself towards his ultimate end. We can speak here of an eschatological relativity , in the sense that man and the world are moving towards their end, which is the fulfilment of their destiny in God; we can also speak of a theological relativity , insofar as the gift of God, by which the definitive destiny of humanity and of creation will be attained, is infinitely greater than human possibilities and expectations.
Any totalitarian vision of society and the State, and any purely intra-worldly ideology of progress are contrary to the integral truth of the human person and to God's plan in history. The Church, sign and defender of the transcendence of the human person. The goal of salvation, the Kingdom of God embraces all people and is fully realized beyond history, in God. The Church places herself concretely at the service of the Kingdom of God above all by announcing and communicating the Gospel of salvation and by establishing new Christian communities. It follows from this, in particular, that the Church is not to be confused with the political community and is not bound to any political system .
Indeed, it can be affirmed that the distinction between religion and politics and the principle of religious freedom constitute a specific achievement of Christianity and one of its fundamental historical and cultural contributions. Precisely for this reason, the Church offers an original and irreplaceable contribution with the concern that impels her to make the family of mankind and its history more human, prompting her to place herself as a bulwark against every totalitarian temptation, as she shows man his integral and definitive vocation.
At the level of concrete historical dynamics, therefore, the coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be discerned in the perspective of a determined and definitive social, economic or political organization. Rather, it is seen in the development of a human social sense which for mankind is a leaven for attaining wholeness, justice and solidarity in openness to the Transcendent as a point of reference for one's own personal definitive fulfilment.
The Church, the Kingdom of God and the renewal of social relations. God, in Christ, redeems not only the individual person but also the social relations existing between men. As the Apostle Paul teaches, life in Christ makes the human person's identity and social sense — with their concrete consequences on the historical and social planes — emerge fully and in a new manner: For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
In this perspective, Church communities, brought together by the message of Jesus Christ and gathered in the Holy Spirit round the Risen Lord cf. The transformation of social relationships that responds to the demands of the Kingdom of God is not fixed within concrete boundaries once and for all. Rather, it is a task entrusted to the Christian community, which is to develop it and carry it out through reflection and practices inspired by the Gospel. It is the same Spirit of the Lord, leading the people of God while simultaneously permeating the universe, who from time to time inspires new and appropriate ways for humanity to exercise its creative responsibility.
This inspiration is given to the community of Christians who are a part of the world and of history, and who are therefore open to dialogue with all people of good will in the common quest for the seeds of truth and freedom sown in the vast field of humanity. The dynamics of this renewal must be firmly anchored in the unchangeable principles of the natural law, inscribed by God the Creator in each of his creatures cf. This law is called to become the ultimate measure and rule of every dynamic related to human relations. In short, it is the very mystery of God, Trinitarian Love, that is the basis of the meaning and value of the person, of social relations, of human activity in the world, insofar as humanity has received the revelation of this and a share in it through Christ in his Spirit.
The transformation of the world is a fundamental requirement of our time also. To this need the Church's social Magisterium intends to offer the responses called for by the signs of the times, pointing above all to the mutual love between human beings, in the sight of God, as the most powerful instrument of change, on the personal and social levels.
Mutual love, in fact, sharing in the infinite love of God, is humanity's authentic purpose, both historical and transcendent. New heavens and a new earth. God's promise and Jesus Christ's resurrection raise in Christians the well-founded hope that a new and eternal dwelling place is prepared for every human person, a new earth where justice abides cf. This hope, rather than weaken, must instead strengthen concern for the work that is needed in the present reality. The good things — such as human dignity, brotherhood and freedom, all the good fruits of nature and of human enterprise — that in the Lord's Spirit and according to his command have spread throughout the earth, having been purified of every stain, illuminated and transfigured, belong to the Kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, of love and of peace that Christ will present to the Father, and it is there that we shall once again find them.
The words of Christ in their solemn truth will then resound for all people: The complete fulfilment of the human person, achieved in Christ through the gift of the Spirit, develops in history and is mediated by personal relationships with other people, relationships that in turn reach perfection thanks to the commitment made to improve the world, in justice and peace. Human activity in history is of itself significant and effective for the definitive establishment of the Kingdom, although this remains a free gift of God, completely transcendent.
Such activity, when it respects the objective order of temporal reality and is enlightened by truth and love, becomes an instrument for making justice and peace ever more fully and integrally present, and anticipates in our own day the promised Kingdom. Conforming himself to Christ the Redeemer, man perceives himself as a creature willed by God and eternally chosen by him, called to grace and glory in all the fullness of the mystery in which he has become a sharer in Jesus Christ . Being conformed to Christ and contemplating his face  instil in Christians an irrepressible longing for a foretaste in this world, in the context of human relationships, of what will be a reality in the definitive world to come; thus Christians strive to give food, drink, clothing, shelter, care, a welcome and company to the Lord who knocks at the door cf.
Heir to the hope of the righteous in Israel and first among the disciples of Jesus Christ is Mary, his Mother. The God of the Covenant, whom the Virgin of Nazareth praises in song as her spirit rejoices, is the One who casts down the mighty from their thrones and raises up the lowly, fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich away empty, scatters the proud and shows mercy to those who fear him cf.
Mary is totally dependent upon God and completely directed towards him by the impetus of her faith. The Church, God's dwelling place with men and women. The Church, sharing in mankind's joys and hopes, in its anxieties and sadness, stands with every man and woman of every place and time, to bring them the good news of the Kingdom of God, which in Jesus Christ has come and continues to be present among them. In the midst of mankind and in the world she is the sacrament of God's love and, therefore, of the most splendid hope, which inspires and sustains every authentic undertaking for and commitment to human liberation and advancement.
As minister of salvation, the Church is not in the abstract nor in a merely spiritual dimension, but in the context of the history and of the world in which man lives. Here mankind is met by God's love and by the vocation to cooperate in the divine plan. Unique and unrepeatable in his individuality, every person is a being who is open to relationships with others in society.
Life together in society, in the network of relationships linking individuals, families and intermediate groups by encounter, communication and exchange, ensures a higher quality of living. The common good that people seek and attain in the formation of social communities is the guarantee of their personal, familial and associative good. These are the reasons for which society originates and takes shape, with its array of structures, that is to say its political, economic, juridical and cultural constructs.
As an expert in humanity, she is able to understand man in his vocation and aspirations, in his limits and misgivings, in his rights and duties, and to speak a word of life that reverberates in the historical and social circumstances of human existence. Enriching and permeating society with the Gospel.
With her social teaching the Church seeks to proclaim the Gospel and make it present in the complex network of social relations. It is not simply a matter of reaching out to man in society — man as the recipient of the proclamation of the Gospel — but of enriching and permeating society itself with the Gospel . For the Church, therefore, tending to the needs of man means that she also involves society in her missionary and salvific work. The way people live together in society often determines the quality of life and therefore the conditions in which every man and woman understand themselves and make decisions concerning themselves and their vocation.
For this reason, the Church is not indifferent to what is decided, brought about or experienced in society; she is attentive to the moral quality — that is, the authentically human and humanizing aspects — of social life. Society — and with it, politics, the economy, labour, law, culture — is not simply a secular and worldly reality, and therefore outside or foreign to the message and economy of salvation.
Society in fact, with all that is accomplished within it, concerns man. By means of her social doctrine, the Church takes on the task of proclaiming what the Lord has entrusted to her. She makes the message of the freedom and redemption wrought by Christ, the Gospel of the Kingdom, present in human history. As the Gospel reverberates by means of the Church in the today of men and women, this social doctrine is a word that brings freedom.
This means that it has the effectiveness of truth and grace that comes from the Spirit of God, who penetrates hearts, predisposing them to thoughts and designs of love, justice, freedom and peace. Evangelizing the social sector, then, means infusing into the human heart the power of meaning and freedom found in the Gospel, in order to promote a society befitting mankind because it befits Christ: With her social doctrine not only does the Church not stray from her mission but she is rigorously faithful to it.
The redemption wrought by Christ and entrusted to the saving mission of the Church is certainly of the supernatural order. This dimension is not a delimitation of salvation but rather an integral expression of it.
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The supernatural is not to be understood as an entity or a place that begins where the natural ends, but as the raising of the natural to a higher plane. In this way nothing of the created or the human order is foreign to or excluded from the supernatural or theological order of faith and grace, rather it is found within it, taken on and elevated by it. As this link was broken in the man Adam, so in the Man Christ it was reforged cf.
Redemption begins with the Incarnation, by which the Son of God takes on all that is human, except sin, according to the solidarity established by the wisdom of the Divine Creator, and embraces everything in his gift of redeeming Love. Man is touched by this Love in the fullness of his being: The whole man — not a detached soul or a being closed within its own individuality, but a person and a society of persons — is involved in the salvific economy of the Gospel. As bearer of the Gospel's message of Incarnation and Redemption, the Church can follow no other path: This is especially true in times such as the present, marked by increasing interdependence and globalization of social issues.
Social doctrine, evangelization and human promotion. The Church's social doctrine is an integral part of her evangelizing ministry. Nothing that concerns the community of men and women — situations and problems regarding justice, freedom, development, relations between peoples, peace — is foreign to evangelization, and evangelization would be incomplete if it did not take into account the mutual demands continually made by the Gospel and by the concrete, personal and social life of man.
Profound links exist between evangelization and human promotion: They also include links in the theological order, since one cannot disassociate the plan of creation from the plan of Redemption. The latter plan touches the very concrete situations of injustice to be combated and of justice to be restored. They include links of the eminently evangelical order, which is that of charity: Understood in this way, this social doctrine is a distinctive way for the Church to carry out her ministry of the Word and her prophetic role. This is not a marginal interest or activity, or one that is tacked on to the Church's mission, rather it is at the very heart of the Church's ministry of service: This is a ministry that stems not only from proclamation but also from witness.
The Church does not assume responsibility for every aspect of life in society, but speaks with the competence that is hers, which is that of proclaiming Christ the Redeemer: This means that the Church does not intervene in technical questions with her social doctrine, nor does she propose or establish systems or models of social organization.