Wednesday, April 21, 2004
The Bible and Morality  

In an address to participants in the annual plenary assembly of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, the Holy Father commented on the relationship between the Bible and morality.

The Pope pointed out the "fundamental behaviors of biblical morality." These are: "knowing God, the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ; recognizing his infinite goodness; knowing with a grateful and sincere soul that 'all good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights'; discovering in the gifts that God has given us the duties that he has entrusted to us; acting in full awareness of our responsibilities in his regard."

John Paul II added: "The Bible presents to us the inexhaustible riches of this revelation of God and of his love for humanity. The duty of your common commitment is to facilitate for the Christian people access to this treasure."

The beauty of what the Pope mentions is truly found in the Bible. Throughout his pontificate, he has stressed what his recent predecessors and the Second Vatican Council emphasized--the importance of knowing Christ by encountering Him in Scripture. We in the West are beginning to grasp this. For instance, in the United States, there has been growing interest in studying the Bible among Catholics.

At the same session, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger also spoke on this topic.

"In contemporary society there is a growing expectation for a non-confessional ethic, for a so-called lay morality produced by reason alone and independent of any revelation," the cardinal said.

"Human reason is certainly able to know and to formulate valid moral norms," he acknowledged. "However, it is fragile and limited and is not able to reveal to itself its origin and its ultimate meaning, as it is the reason of sinful man."

"Therefore, faith is necessary to understand fully the moral contents of the human condition," Cardinal Ratzinger said. The moral law, he added, quoting No. 1950 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, can be defined as "God's pedagogy."

"The moral law is the work of divine Wisdom," the cardinal said. "Its biblical meaning can be defined as fatherly instruction, God's pedagogy. It prescribes for man the ways, the rules of conduct that lead to the promised beatitude; it proscribes the ways of evil which turn him away from God and his love. It is at once firm in its precepts and, in its promises, worthy of love."

"The Christian does not live and understand his faith or his moral life on his own. The access to faith in Jesus Christ, who offers salvation, takes place through the mediation of a living Tradition, the Church: through this Tradition, Christians receive the 'living voice of the Gospel,' as the faithful expression of divine wisdom and will," he stressed.

For this reason, "it is the responsibility of the Church always and everywhere to proclaim moral principles, including those referring to the social order, as well as to pass judgment on all human affairs, to the degree called for by the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls," as indicated in Canon 747 of the Code of Canon Law.

These last two paragraphs point out two very important ideas. The Bible truly is a Catholic book. We have received the Bible through Tradition. As such, the Church is the guardian of God's Word. Catholics must embrace this treasure and become very conversant in the Bible in order to communicate with other Christians and to address those who do not know Christ. We know the Bible through the wonderful liturgy. We need to know the Scripture more deeply by taking the time to mediate on it every day.

Second, the Church must always be about the business of proclaiming the message of the Bible and encouraging all of us to learn Scripture and apply it in our lives. Today there is probably no more practical way to apply God's word than through lived out morality. In a world that is often searching for some type of firm foundation upon which to stand, we can offer the unshakeable Rock of God's Word by proclaiming it in our deeds and in our words, when necessary.

Posted by David at 9:58 PM  |  Comments (0)  | 


Post a Comment