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Arkansas Catholic
Little Rock, Arkansas
September 1, 1991     Arkansas Catholic
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September 1, 1991

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ARKANSAS CATHOLIC 1, 1991 PAGE 3 St. Mary's Hospital, Dermott, oct. 1965. Labor Day for most of us brings to labor unions, and the long struggle achieve just which has such an im- history the past cen- '- a struggle in Catholics, yed such impor- Mt roles. rlthout the la- r ...... _ movement, ....... erican sodety as We know it today would not exist. Fair wages are still an impot~Lnt issue for lillions of Americans - especially women ethnic groups such as African Ameri- %s and Hispanics - but in recent years workers have been forced to shift their from fair wages to job security. In- asingly workers are less concemed about t they're being paid than whether they a job at all. The United States is no longer a self- %rltained economic unit. We're now part ~a~_s international economy, and in recent many Americans in industries like a mobil s, steel, textiles and electronics lost their jobs to workers in other ions. As a result many firms have had to ho lace the traditional antagonism between r and management with an attitude of %l -'ration simply to survive. Without the labor movement, Maerican sodety as we know it .. would not exist. Catholic social teaching has always ..~r~ed the need for what is called diswibu- justice. Stated simply it means that ev- o ty ne who helps to make the pie should get ' t's a fair share when it s sliced up. Tha the Church has always backed labor ions, and legislation which supports work- rights. , . Rut there s another side to economic JtlStice which Catholic theologians haven't ~Cu~d very much. In fact there doesn't even seem to be a name in the theological vocabulary for the positi side of economic activity- making sure the pie is big enough to go around and the only problem is making sure it gets sliced up fairly. Productivity is the word economists use for this aspect of things, but productivity has never been looked on as a moral issue. Most moral theologians seem to assume the pie will always be big enough to go around, and the only problem is making sure it gets sliced up fairly. But the current economic situation is forcing us to recognize that only an economy which is productive can be just. That's because only productive econo- mies can provide jobs. Only productive economies can pay decent wages. Only productive economies can provide their people with education and health care and a clean environment. Only productive economies can care for their poor and handicapped, and help alleviate hunger abroad. You can't achieve justice by slicing the pie more fairly if the piate is npty. After all what is economic justice? Surely it's much more than shared poverty. You can't achieve justice by slicing the pie more fairly if the plate is empty.Just as a fair share of the pie has to be large enough to eaL so a just wage has to be high enough to sup- port a decent standard of living- and there's no way workers in a non-productive economy can be paid wages high enough to support their families. Just as Pope Paul vI once said, "If you want peace, work for justice," it's becoming necessary in our time to say "If you want economic justice, work for productivity." Productivity does not come from work- hag harder, but from working smarter- from organizing our efforts so that at the end of the day we get more done with the same effort. It's based, as theJalmnese have shown us, on cooperation rather than individual- ism. The struggle we now face - finding ways to cooperate more effectively- is as great as the one our forebears faced when they struggled to achieve decent wages. And just as the Church's leadership in that struggle wag crucial so it will be in this one. But the Church will not be able to provide that leadership until there is some recognition by our theologians that produc- tivity is part of the moral equation. Copyright 1991 Ivan Kauffman Question: Which would you prefer, in the absence of a pastor/priest: Deacon Layperson Nun/fftster Responses need not be signed, but only this form (no photocopies) will be accepted. No phone calls, please. Mail to: Arkansas Catholic Survey PO Box 7417, Little Rock, 72217 Additional comments welcome. August Questiom H0w ue//d0ts the Cath0- //c C/torch serve youngpe0p/e? 0% Very well 7% As well as 93% Not well other denominations Some annments from our reader " I am a sophomore at UCA, and I re- member well all those kids who were, and unfortunately still are, "too cool for religion." A lot of kids "don't need God." Where did we fail? My parents kept me on the right track. The Protestant churches in our corn- munity put much more time and money into their youth. My children often ask why our church doesn't have the programs their friends are attending. Catholics need to take a lesson from Protestants on how to treat young people in the Church. " My answer to thi~ as a beginning, is to have weekly Sunday School classes for all ages, year round. In these classes we can learn more about our faith...develop fellow- ship that spills over into stronger Christian community. Young people are not the "( urch of tomorrow." They are as much a sign of Christ's presence as any baptized adult; and yet the lack of finandal and human re- sources, the lack of a real voice in their parishes says they're "second class." Rev. William Gould Dt. 4:1-2, 6-8 James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27 Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 Fhis is a strange kind of intelligence test." mused I to myself while reading today's Deuteronomy passage. Did Moses really believe that pagans would be impressed by Israel's laws? Or that they. would be filled with such awe? It hardly seems likely - he knew them too well. So what is he really say- ing? Moses urged his people to "hear the statutes and decrees which I am teach- hag you to observe." He wanted them to hear more than just words. They were to cultivate listening, receptive hearts. "Observe them carefully," he continued, "for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations." Those whom Moses called "the nations" were not impressed. Most of them never gave a tinker's dam for the Jews, their laws, or even their God. The words put in their mouths summarize what Moses wanted his people to discover:, that to serve God is not only intel- ligent, but also the height of wisdom. He challenged them to become truly intelligent. He asked that they remember God's nearness and His great love. They had received many blessings in the pas many more were possible for the future. Moses wanted his people to live wisely - to have their actions spring from a graced, almost inspired com- mon sense based on deep faith. Intelligent people take God seriously. Wise ones live in ways that make it possible for God Intelligent people take God seriously. to continue blessing them. St. Paul reminds us that every worthwhile gift and genuine benefit comes from God. Our God can even bring us into a whole new kind ~ of life - something that secular sodeties always promise, but that only God can deliver. "Humbly welcome the word that has taken root in . * . ") yOU, ~/lth Its power to save you. Act on this word. Why. Because this is the only truly intelligent, wise (and effective) way to live. i iJiii : : ....... , :~:~ ............. The Pharisees had learned Moses' words, but they had never raider- ~; ~ : stood what he had really meant. They thought that he had demanded : ......... : scrupulous obedience to every jot and titde of the laws. He had really asked his people to live with faith and dedication - to allow God to fill every nook and cranny of their lives. This is also what Jesus asks in today's gospel. I once heard an elderly woman (who had never gone beyond the fifth grade) express it this way: "If I belong to Jesus and refuse to have anything to do with evil, evil can't have anything to do with me." We are being asked to let God fill the "deep recesses" of our hearts. These scriptures also ask us to absorb His values and carefully observe His ways. This will make it possible for us to receive the gifts He offers, to experience continued blessings, and to become everything that He created us to be. This is what it means to be "truly a wise and intelligent people." Will others recognize our wisdom and intelligence? Perhaps not, but it probably does not matter very much. What matters is that we live with this kind of wisdom and intelligence.