Defender of the Faith: Bishop Stika Responds to Distribution of Anti-Catholic Tracts
Christians misinterpret both Paul and James, thus concluding that their statements about faith and works contradict each other. This is simply not true. There are differences in emphasis but no contradictions in teaching if one understands both properly. Paul and James agree that both "faith" and "works" are essential to Christian life.
Jesus himself makes this crystal clear in his description of the LastJudgment (Matthew 25:31-46). From his judgment seat, the Lord will welcome into his eternal kingdom those who fed the hungry, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, and visited the sick and imprisoned-in other words, those who saw Christ in the suffering and acted in response, inspired by the love of God. Those who did not perform these "works" of love will "go off to eternal punishment" (25:46).
Catholics take the "works" cited above very seriously. As an example, empowered by the grace of Jesus Christ, Catholic Charities of East Tennessee Inc. addresses the unmet needs of the most vulnerable of our region by providing shelter, nourishment, counseling, and education in order to foster human dignity. Catholic Charities of East Tennessee delivers 17 services through 24 programs throughout the region. This agency´s services are provided regardless of religious affiliation, race, or ability to pay: fewer than 5 percent of the more than 20,000 clients served annually are Catholic.
Regarding the reprehensible leaflet titled "The Death Cookie": The Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence asserts that in the Holy Eucharist, Jesus is literally and wholly present-body and blood, soul and divini¬ty-under the appearances of bread and wine. Some Christians attack this doctrine as "unbiblical," but Catholics believe that the Bible is forthright in declaring it (l Corinthians 10:16-17 and 11:23-29 and, most forcefully, John 6:32-71).
Catholics recognize that many of our Christian brothers and sisters do not share our belief in the Real Presence. Even though we may not share the same doctrinal belief, we are thankful that our Christian brothers and sisters of different faiths deeply respect the Lord´s Supper and what it represents. Even the Southern Baptist Convention states, "The Lord´s Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming."
As bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville, I pray that all Christian pastors will develop a spirituality of ecumenism, with a willingness to explore with other Christians the common beliefs of our Christianity-primarily our belief in the one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ-rather than focus on our differences.
The leaflets produced by Chick Publications and distributed locally are hateful, discriminatory, and full of prejudice and bigotry.
Jesus warns that each of us will be judged by the same standard with which we judge others. If we are harsh or judgmental in our analysis of others, we will face harsh analysis. Those who are gentle and gracious toward others will be treated gently and graciously. Perhaps we should remember the golden rule:
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (Matthew 7:12)."
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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