The essence of Christian morality is…drum roll please…

human sellingThose of us who are in the medical field know the word, “Necrosis.” It means dead flesh. St. Paul tells us to put to death/necrosis, (literally) those parts of us remaining upon the earth. First mentioned is, “Porn.” The On-line Etymology Dictionary states the root idea of this word is that of selling.  In particular, it means the selling of people. A prostitute is someone selling him or herself as something less than human. We “have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for recognition of each other as being in the image of its creator.” Greek has two ways of saying something is made. The first, used in Genesis when God makes man, is “ἐποίησεν.” The word St. Paul uses in our Second Reading for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time is, “Ktisis.” This means a founding, as in a colony.

St. Paul does not speak of God as creator, as someone who builds a building. St. Paul speaks of St. Paul as a founder, someone who strives to create the ideal community and wants us to join him in the effort.

William Penn
William Penn: Founder of Pennsylvania

St. Paul speaks of an ideal community Christians are supposed to be trying to make. Christ is the foundation. We recognize Christ in each other. There is no buying and selling of people. Luke 7:44 has Jesus speak a great line when he chastises Simon Peter for being so Pharisaical. “Do you see this woman?” The answer is of course, no! He does not see her. He sees a porn/a prostitute, someone selling herself for a living. It takes two to tango as the old saying goes. If there is a seller, there must also be a buyer. If we refuse to buy, she cannot sell. Likewise, the homeless, desperate to do anything for food, clothing, shelter, transportation, healthcare, and the like. If we recognize/ἐπίγνωσιν the image of God in that person, we will not buy their dignity. We will help that person acquire their dignity, and the necessities of life,  as people God made in his image of God.

St. Paul then goes on to list impurity. When speaking of impurity he lists pathos/suffering. Pathos also means passion. We speak of Christ’s Pathos/Passion. One verse later St. Paul speaks of disobedience/A Pathos, or not having passion, not caring. God calls us to end Pathos/suffering from our society. He calls us to bring in Pathos, caring for all people in our society, which extends to everyone, and everything, on the planet.

St. Paul then speaks of the desire for sickness. St. Augustine asks, “what prudence, there is in wishing to glory in the greatness and extent of the empire, when you cannot point out the happiness of men who are always rolling, with dark fear and cruel lust, in warlike slaughters and in blood, which, whether shed in civil or foreign war, is still human blood.” City of God, Book 4, chapter 3.

St. Augustine behind the altar

St. Augustine then goes on,  “Your wishes are bad, when you desire that one whom you hate or fear should be in such a condition that you can conquer him.” That condition is being bad. This is the desire for sickness St. Paul speaks of.

St. Paul then speaks of the one who has or claims more than his due. That brings up the question of what a man’s due is. St. Augustine tells us, “Let them praise His Name in chorus.” What does “chorus” mean? A “chorus” is the union of singers. If we sing “in chorus,” let us sing in concord. If any one’s voice is out of harmony in a chorus of singers, it offends the ear, and throws the chorus into confusion. The whole world is now the chorus of Christ. The chorus of Christ sounds harmoniously from east to west. “Let them sing a psalm unto Him with tambourine and psaltery.” Why “tambourine and psaltery”? That not the voice alone may praise, but the works too.”  Expositions on the Book of Psalms: Psalm 149

As John the Baptist tells those around him in Luke 3, if you have more than enough and your neighbor has not enough, you are killing harmony and dissension. St. Paul speaks of that as greed.

St. Paul speaks of a real dying. St. Paul died on that Damascus Road, and he rose again. He spent the rest of his career speaking of a real dying and rising in Christ. Our Eucharist is our dying and rising in Christ. If we truly participate in this dying and rising, there will be fruits. The fruits of that message are simple, loving one another, caring for one another, and making sure we see Christ in one another. All the rest of Christian morality comes from that.


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