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Morality and Love刊登日期: 2013.10.20
作者: Fr. Thomas Au 區耀邦神父
Having taken a couple of articles to lay the foundation on truth, it is time we turn toward the topic of morality.
For many people, to be moral means doing the right thing and avoiding the wrong things. This is important to Catholics and non- Catholics alike. Every culture and philosophy has almost the same moral laws. It is wrong to steal, to kill, to lie, to break a promise, to dishonor your parents and so on. To us Christians, however, morality is about whether what I do leads me to God who is Love. The focus is not just about me and how I act. It is about the relationship we have with God, how I respond to God who took the initiative to reveal Himself to us, to tell us not only about being right or wrong, but to let us know what is important to Him. Morality is personal.
The story of the Prodigal Son, Lk 15: 11- 32, exemplifies this relationship. In this parable, the main character is the father. The younger son, the prodigal son, did the unthinkable, asking the father for the inheritance intended for him. Basically, he does not care if his father is dead or alive. He only wants what he considers his, right now. In Chinese, it is not only 不順（disobedient）, we call it 不孝（un-filial）. It is worse than rude. It is an insult to the dignity of the father. It is unconscionable（無良心）. It would not be unkind if the father disowns the son and banishes him from the family. That would be justice, the right punishment for such a son.（ To be honest, I have a few words in my mind that is difficult to translate into English, such as 「反骨」、「忤逆」、「無可救藥」. ） Yet, the father waited for the son by the gate. That is the mercy of the father. All he wanted was for the son to come home, to be loved and appreciate his love.
On the other hand, the elder son does everything right. But he misses the point of the father’s love. He wants the brother to be punished and banished. He thinks that being right is the most important thing. He had behaved as he thought was expected of him. But for the father, that is not enough. He wants his sons to be loved and to love one another as he loves them. That is the Christian foundation of morality.
A n o t h e r w a y o f p u t t i n g it, morality is about building up relationships, cultivating a community of fraternal charity （brotherly love）. It is not enough to not do wrong. It is about going beyond the call of duty. That is what Jesus’ dying on the Cross is about. “For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Rom 5:6-8.
This is why, as Catholics, if we say we love someone, it is not enough that we do not wrong them or lead them to do wrong. Ezekiel 3:17-21 goes so far as to say that we are responsible for their sins if we have not attempted to prevent them from doing wrong.
In the next articles, we will look deeper into Christian morality.