Friday, June 1, 2018
And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” And they could not reply to these things. – Luke 14:3-6
If you ask me if ethics are absolute or situational, my answer is both. Why this seemingly contradictory answer? Because an aspect of the absolute is its proper application to the specific circumstance. If the intent of the application of the absolute is not heeded, if the justice inherent in the law is crudely administered to the specific situation, then the veracity, integrity, and sufficiency of the absolute has been compromised.
Fundamentalism of all faiths is guilty of this sin, this sin of an ethic insensitively and thoughtlessly applied. It is the fallacy of literalism to rip the words out of their specific intention.
In the Old Testament, we received the commandment, “You shall not murder.” Seems clear enough, yet then the scriptures invest many chapters in defining what is murder and what is not. It is a commandment, yet it worth and value is in it being applied with discerning wisdom. Christ speaks about the Old Testament Sabbath law … “Do no work on the Sabbath … yet for the sake of the ox in distress, the Sabbath law must be reasonably and justly applied.
In law school, I taught this maxim … the law is but the bare minimum of morality. Laws themselves become unlawful when applied in unjust ways to serve unjust purposes.
Christ on a Sabbath healed a man who was under medical distress … for it was the loving exception in order to maintain the integrity of the law.
Always in Christ’ Service,
Fr. Charitas de la Cruz