Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Christian Economics

The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common.

So opens todays first reading which goes on to explain how they sold their possessions and the apostles distributed them according to need.

Is this an idealized presentation? Most likely, but the principle remains true. There is a moral obligation on those who have to care for those who have not.

You may respond, "What about my right to private property, my right to buy and own things?

That right like all rights is limited.

In the words of the Catechism:

2403 The right to private property, acquired or received in a just way, does not do away with the original gift of the earth to the whole of mankind. The universal destination of goods remains primordial, even if the promotion of the common good requires respect for the right to private property and its exercise.

2404 "In his use of things man should regard the external goods he legitimately owns not merely as exclusive to himself but common to others also, in the sense that they can benefit others as well as himself."188 The ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others...

We hear little talk about the common good anymore. All we seem to hear is discussion of individual rights.

At the very center of our understanding of the human person is that we were created to live in community, one with our God and one with our brothers and sister. Balancing the right to private property with the common good is not always easy. Perhaps our annual reading of the Acts of the Apostles will help each of us to remember not only our individual rights, but our common responsibilities.