So there we have it!!
Paragraph 2401 says, “The seventh commandment forbids unjustly taking or keeping the goods of one’s neighbor and wronging him in any way with respect to his goods. It commands justice and charity in the care of earthly goods and the fruits of men’s labor. For the sake of the common good, it requires respect for the universal destination of goods and respect for the right to private property. Christian life strives to order this world’s goods to God and to fraternal charity.”
How do we interact with each other?
How do we care for one another?
Isn’t this how we live?
We are tempted to say, “Hey, if you can get ahead, get ahead. Whatever you can acquire, get it.”
We are commanded justice and charity
We are called to give someone what they are owed
We are called to love in the care of earthly goods and the fruits of men’s labor
What is a paradox?
It is something that appears to be contradictory but is not
It is revealing the deeper truth by highlighting the fact that there are two truths that are in tension
Today, the tension is between the right to own private property and the universal destination of goods
This is not a compromise
These are two goods that are held in tension
They are not contradictory, they are paradoxical
What does UNIVERSAL DESTINATION OF GOODS mean?
Let’s listen to Fr. Mike talk about FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) and their study they conducted…
Generally speaking, the Church does not advocate any particular policy
The Church will advocate principles
“The universal destination of goods says that the whole of the world’s resources are made to satisfy the whole of the world’s needs.”
The right to private property flows from our nature as we have reason, intellect, and free will
Because we have dignity, because we have freedom, because we have agency, we have that right to private property
The right to private property is limited by the universal destination of goods
One of our goals is to order this world’s goods to God
God is our reference point for everything
Paragraph 2402 says, “In the beginning God entrusted the earth and its resources to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them, master them by labor, and enjoy their fruits. The goods of creation are destined for the whole human race. However, the earth is divided up among men to assure the security of their lives, endangered by poverty and threatened by violence. The appropriation of property is legitimate for guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of persons and for helping each of them to meet his basic needs and the needs of those in his charge. It should allow for a natural solidarity to develop between men.”
It makes sense that we have to have some degree of a real right to private property
Paragraph 2403 says, “The right to private property, acquired or received in a just way, does not do away with the original gift of the earth to the whole of mankind. The universal destination of goods remains primordial, even if the promotion of the common good requires respect for the right to private property and its exercise.”
We all are being challenged
Some of us are big time capitalists
Some of us may want the world's resources to all be given away (I’m paraphrasing this part because I don’t feel like typing every single word here)
The right to private property and the universal destination of goods must be kept in balance
The distortion of capitalism is real and can run rampant and trample upon the downtrodden
Communism, the idea that no one has a right to private property, is a real evil
That is why these things need to be held in tension
We need both
We need to have a lens that looks at this in a full way
We as Christians are invited/challenged/commanded to look at our private property in a unique way
Paragraph 2404 says, “‘In his use of things man should regard the external goods he legitimately owns not merely as exclusive to himself but common to others also, in the sense that they can benefit others as well as himself.’ The ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others, first of all his family.”
The mind of Christ is the thing that guides us in our ownership
The mind of Christ is what should be guiding us in our work
So I should regard my goods not merely exclusive to myself even though I have a right to own them
The invitation is to see myself as a steward more than an owner
You have a right to own private property
How do you see your private property?
Is it simply stuff that ends with you?
Or do you see it as being a steward of these things and you get to use them for the sake of the people around you?
Let’s listen to Fr. Mike talk about a couple that did the envelope system of budgeting…
Their giving envelope was pretty big at the end of the month
They say that money as goods God has entrusted to them
Who do they get to bless with this money?
Who do they get to use this money for to make their life better?
That is an incredible way of looking at our stuff
How can I make my home a place where people are welcome?
Fr. Mike is continuing to talk about this couple so let’s listen more…
We can also look at this in terms of other resources
There are external resources
There are also internal resources
Things like time, intelligence, compassion
We are invited as Christians to have an entirely new way of looking at the world and looking at the gifts we have
To be able to look at the things that are in our possession not as owners but as stewards
That is a huge challenge for so many of us
It is a challenge we are called to respond to
Do I see myself as the owner of my stuff, including my time?
Do I see myself as the steward of my stuff and the steward of my time?
Remember the Parable of the Talents?
Jesus expects the people to be fruitful and use those talents in such a way that there are more talents at the end
And also to communicate their benefits to others
Paragraph 2405 says, “Goods of production-material or immaterial-such as land, factories, practical or artistic skills, oblige their possessors to employ them in ways that will benefit the greatest number. Those who hold goods for use and consumption should use them with moderation, reserving the better part for guests, for the sick and the poor.”
This is an incredible challenge
How often do we see our stuff as just our stuff as opposed to for the sake of those we are responsible for?
For the poor?
For the sick?
Remember how in the Old Testament if you had a field, you would leave a tenth of that field for the poor, the widow, the orphan, the alien, the stranger
It was considered to be theirs
The People of Israel reserved that land for those who needed it most
That is what we are called to do as Christians
In mercy, we are called to do the same thing
What part of my material goods belongs not to me, but to those who need them?
What part of my resources belong not to me, but to those who need them?
Every Christian faces this challenge
We can’t just consider this challenge for five minutes and go about our day
The Lord is inviting us to reframe our way of thinking for the rest of our lives
Am I an owner?
Am I a steward?
That is the challenge
Is it my stuff?
Has my stuff been entrusted to me so that I can bless the maximum number of people?
That is the challenge that we are all facing
Fr. Mike is praying FOR YOU!!
Please pray for Fr. Mike and for each other!!
I cannot WAIT…