Lincoln’s Log 2-27-11

As the events surrounding the Budget Repair bill continue to unfold, Ive been struck by the balance being called for by our local bishops in the state of Wisconsin. A call for a focus on the common good balanced with the dignity and rights of workers needs to be explored. In a letter released by the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, Archbishop Listecki of Milwaukee writes:
“The Church is well aware that difficult economic times call for hard choices and financial responsibility to further the common good. Our own dioceses and parishes have not been immune to the effects of the current economic difficulties. But hard times do not nullify the moral obligation each of us has to respect the legitimate rights of workers. As Pope Benedict wrote in his 2009 encyclical, ‘Caritas in veritate’:
“‘Governments, for reasons of economic utility, often limit the freedom or the negotiating capacity of labor unions. Hence traditional networks of solidarity have more and more obstacles to overcome. The repeated calls issued within the Church’s social doctrine, beginning with ‘Rerum Novarum’ [60], for the promotion of workers’ associations that can defend their rights must therefore be honored today even more than in the past, as a prompt and far-sighted response to the urgent need for new forms of cooperation at the international level, as well as the local level.’ [#25]
“It does not follow from this that every claim made by workers or their representatives is valid. Every union, like every other economic actor, is called to work for the common good, to make sacrifices when required, and to adjust to new economic realities.
“However, it is equally a mistake to marginalize or dismiss unions as impediments to economic growth. As Pope John Paul II wrote in 1981, ‘[a] union remains a constructive factor of social order and solidarity, and it is impossible to ignore it.’ (‘Laborem exercens’ #20, emphasis in original)
“It is especially in times of crisis that ‘new forms of cooperation’ and open communication become essential. We request that lawmakers carefully consider the implications of this proposal and evaluate it in terms of its impact on the common good. We also appeal to everyone – lawmakers, citizens, workers, and labor unions – to move beyond divisive words and actions and work together, so that Wisconsin can recover in a humane way from the current fiscal crisis.”
Today’s Gospel reminds us that “No one can serve two masters.” Only by moving beyond ideology and genuinely exploring “new forms of cooperation” will we be able to move through the current crisis and face the future with hope. The common good needs to take center stage once again!

LIncoln’s Log 2-20-11

You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well.” (Mt. 5:38)
Its not always easy to find the Good News in a passage like this. Where is the Gospel? “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other one as well.” This doesn’t sound like Good News. It sounds like a way to insure that you get beat up.
But there is Good News here! The Good News is that the world is not about tit for tat. There is more to morality than justice. The cycle of violence and escalation is broken and those of us who are disciples of Jesus are called to live our lives in a different way. We are no longer bound by the law of karma (You get what you give.)
By the power of Jesus death and resurrection, the law of karma is transcended. As Asla n says when he explains his own return from death in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,
It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch [who killed him] knew the Deep Magic [of justice], there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge only goes back to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.”
As disciples of Jesus we live a life filled with this “deeper magic.” Our hearts are called to act with justice (deep magic) but due to Christ’s resurrection, we are empowered by a deeper magic which allows us to “turn the other cheek” and not fear suffering and death.

Lincoln’s Log 2-13-11

I have come not to abolish [the Law] but to fulfill.” (Mt. 5:17)
This week’s Gospel continues Jesus teaching on discipleship found in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5-7). After proclaiming the grace of discipleship in the Beatitudes and teaching the necessity of sharing God’s blessing with others, Jesus moves on to consider the role of the Law (Torah) in the disciple’s life.
The “New Law” of Christ is the fulfillment of the old law. It recognizes that the Law is a gift of God that has been placed in the disciple’s heart. The Catechism states,
The New Law is called a law of love because it makes us act out of the love infused by the Holy Spirit, rather than from fear; a law of grace, because it confers the strength of grace to act, by means of faith and the sacraments; a law of freedom, because it sets us free from the ritual and juridical observances of the Old Law, inclines us to act spontaneously by the prompting of charity an, finally, lets us pass from the condition of a servant who ‘does not know what his master is doing’ to that of a friend of Christ – ‘For all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you’ – or even to the staus of son and heir.” (CCC 1972)
Love, grace, and freedom. These are the gifts of the New Law of Christ. Following Jesus’ as a disciple demands a lot. In fact, being a disciple demands everything. Discipleship is a new way of life. A radical way of life that struggles to bring justice, love, and peace into a broken world. The demands of discipleship are written on our heart and come to us through the voice of conscience. By following these demands we are empowered to love and ultimately set free from our own selfishness.
The New Law of Christ is a gift. It is the way to joy and freedom.
P.S. For a fuller discussion of the role of conscience in guiding the life of a disciple, see an article by Cardinal Pell at:

Lincoln’s Log 2-6-11

You are the light of the world…“ (Mt. 5:14)
This Sunday’s Gospel (Mt. 5:13-16) continues Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. This “sermon”: is found in Matthew 5-7 is the clearest teaching of Jesus on discipleship.
As in the beatitudes proclaimed last week, Jesus begins his teaching on discipleship with a clear reference to the goodness (Blessedness) found dwelling in his disciples through the grace of God. “You are the light of the world…. “ We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) in the image of God (Gn. 1:27). But now Jesus moves that teaching a step further.
Sin is recognized as the enemy of grace. The profound grace God has given us is not meant for the individual. It is meant to be shared. God’s grace, given to us, “cannot be hidden.” The gift that we have received demands to be shared. God’s grace bubbles over and cannot be contained in our small hearts, but overflows. The flow of grace must not stop in the disciple. It is a gift given to be passed on. God’s grace must not be kept for ourselves, It must be given away. As disciples of the one who lays down his life for his friends (See. Jn. 15:13), we are also called to lay down the gifts we have been given and use them for the sake of others.
If we fail to share the gifts we have been given as disciples of Jesus we block the flow of grace. We sin. We put the gifts we have been given under the “bushel basket” of sin and selfishness. Whenever we do this, we are hoarding something that is meant to be shared and are “no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”
Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Mt. 5:16).