Thursday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
(Romans 14:7-12; Luke 15:1-10)
St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans ends with what is called a paraclesis. This Greek word means exhortation. What we know as chapters 12 to 15 of Romans provides a moral exhortation on how to live the faith so vibrantly expressed in chapters 1 to 11. In no way does Paul mean to separate morality from faith in Jesus. Quite the contrary, he wants to show how the former flows from the latter.
In today’s first reading Paul shows how Christians do not live for themselves but for one another. They all belong to Christ’s body and, therefore, should be wary of making superficial judgments of one another. They are further reminded that the Lord will judge them on the basis of their fairness in judging others.
Often Catholics view Church moral teachings like the prohibition of artificial contraception as rules imposed arbitrarily by bishops to protect the people from flirting with evil. This is not true. Of course, pastors do not want their people to court sinfulness, but Church moral teaching flows from its understanding of what God has ordained for His people. Once again, it is a matter of morality flowing from faith.