Friday, January 13, 2017

The Church as a Society

According to Esolen and his reading of Pope Leo XIII's writings, the Church, although full of sinners, is a perfect society because its members follow Christ and accept the responsibility to obey Christ's commandments to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength" and "love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:30-31).  This love creates a social bond, not a contract, and this bond is meant to help us achieve our end by moral improvement, for true liberty is the opportunity to attain this end, which is union with God.  The two commandments must go together, for "He who does not love does not know God; for God is love" (1 John 4:8). 

In this perfect society, where all are welcome, however, not all are equal, for "God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues.  Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles" (1 Corinthians 12:28-29).  The answer is "No," but all are members of the same body: "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body -- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free -- and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body does not consist of one member but of many" (1 Corinthians 12:12-14).

Despite the inequality, the love for each other creates a social bond: "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together" (1 Corinthians 12:26).

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