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In the Gospel of John, the apostles Andrew and Philip enjoy a privileged position right from the beginning. The reason seems to lie in the fact that they, being from Bethsaida in Galilee and probably fluent in Greek, could serve as intermediaries between ‘Greeks’ and Jesus, whom they wanted to ‘see’. Such an encounter happens in John 12.20–2. According to John, Jesus called Andrew before his brother Peter, whom Andrew then led to Jesus. Philip is the second person directly called by Jesus, himself leading another future disciple to Jesus: Nathanael (John 1.35–46). James and John are completely missing not only in the Johannine scene of the calling of disciples but also in the whole of the Fourth Gospel. The importance of Andrew and Philip follows also from the rest of the Gospel of John. The evangelist seems to depend on an early tradition attested in Asia Minor and to modify the synoptic tradition on its basis.
Modern Catholic social teaching, especially as articulated by the popes, the curia, and the bishops, has said little directly and formally about systems of finance. Where these voices have spoken, they have encouraged sound practices in broad outline and criticized obviously unsound and immoral behaviors. Unfortunately, their own financial management practices have not offered good models for what might be done. Nevertheless, key concepts like the logic of gift, the idea of solidarity and the common good, and the vision of integral human development, coupled with the competence and integrity of Catholics working in systems of finance, can imagine possibilities and generate inspiring models of professional conduct. The key to making this work well is to understand and embrace the possibility of pursuing work in the system of finance as a genuine Christian vocation that in its own way genuinely addresses human needs and helps to build the Kingdom of God. In service of this, the pastors of the Church at every level can and should affirm this profession as a vocation, encourage Catholics to bring their faith to their work, avoid unnecessary criticism of business practices, and assist business professionals to see more clearly the challenges and possibilities they face.
Polls and practical experience both point to a widespread ignorance of the principles of Catholic Social Teaching among Catholic lay people in the United States. A greater emphasis on education in social doctrine is evidently required. One component of this should be to call attention to the eight areas of lay apostolic activity identified by Pope John Paul II in Christifideles laici: promoting the dignity of the human person; fostering respect for the right to life; defending freedom of conscience and religious freedom; protecting and encouraging marriage and family life; participating in public life; placing the individual at the center of socioeconomic life; and the evangelization of culture. Of particular importance in motivating lay people to engage in apostolic activity is the inculcation of the idea of personal vocation. And highly relevant in a wealthy society like ours is the question of lifestyle. The chapter therefore concludes by calling for an updated understanding of the virtue of temperance as it relates to social teaching.
The common good (bonum commune) has, since antiquity, referred to the aim of social and political association, and was particularly prominent in medieval Christian political theology. Since St. John XXIII’s 1961 encyclical letter, Mater et magistra, ecclesiastical statements about social teaching have employed a formulation of the common good, usually in the version that appeared in the Second Vatican Council’s 1965 Pastoral Constitution for the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et spes, as “the sum of those conditions of social life that allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment.” This chapter discusses the origins and development of this formulation as well as the ways that it has been used in subsequent Catholic Social Teaching. While it has sometimes been interpreted as an “instrumental” account of the common good, the sources and uses of the notion suggest that it is the particularly modern political component of a fuller notion of the common good continuous with the tradition. In particular, the recent formulation is concerned to limit the power of the modern state and protect the dignity of the human person in the challenging conditions of political modernity.
Aquinas and Barth both describe the Christian life in light of who God is and how God acts, rather than with a primary concern for morality or apologetics. They differ in that Aquinas describes a single, essentially monastic, and normative form of discipleship that, because it cannot be taken up by most Christians, issues in practice in a two-tier conception of the Christian life. By contrast, Barth's account of vocation individualises the call to each Christian so that it is possible for everyone to lead the Christian life equally well yet in very diverse ways. For this reason, and because our true relation to God is hidden, even to ourselves, we may conclude that it is dangerous to make negative judgement as to anyone's standing before God – and therefore their relative standing in the church, too – based upon a view of the normative form of the Christian life.
Today I want to talk about Augustine's Confessions, a book that may seem a far cry indeed from the life of the modern lawyer—especially the lawyer for whom what we call “religion” seems a very distant matter. But I think Augustine has much to say to us about the nature of a good education, including a good legal education, and I hope this is so whether or not one shares his religious commitments.
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