Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Man and the Sabbath

There's a "Davidic" link between the two readings for today's Mass. First reading: the anointing of the shepherd boy, David, as future King. Second reading: the Son of David invokes his ancestor's interpretation of the Temple laws to defend his disciples from charges of liturgical disrespect.
And in today's newspaper, a modern-day moment in which the people of Haiti need those words of the Lord, the Son of David to ring out again: Laws are made for man, not man for laws.
It seems that the Haitian police are pulling themselves together and attempting to establish some order amid the chaos and ruins of Port au Prince, but they are doing it a bit backwards, at least in the example I read today. Police stationed themselves around a food store to prevent the crowds from "looting" it. (NB: We're not talking flat-screen TV sets here.)
The hungry people, rightly, insisted on having access to food. (Some of them, unfortunately, also had recourse to hurling rocks.) The police would have better served civic order by doing what some guardians of the law did after Hurricane Katrina: taking control of the food store and seeing to the orderly distribution of much-needed supplies. That would provide two of the things most desperately needed in the situation: food and civility, a start to rebuilding a solid society.
Something else to pray for.


Carol said...


flamencokitty said...

Is that article online too? Do you have a link to it?

Sr Anne said...

I can't find the Tribune article about it, but there are plenty of hits if you search "haiti looting food store".

Sr Anne said...

St Thomas Aquinas summed up the Church's tradition on this matter by teaching that although normally it is for the common good that possessions be stewarded by individuals, "Nevertheless, if the need be so manifest and urgent, that it is evident that the present need must be remedied by whatever means be at hand (for instance when a person is in some imminent danger, and there is no other possible remedy), then it is lawful for a man to succor his own need by means of another's property, by taking it either openly or secretly: nor is this properly speaking theft or robbery" (Summa Theologia, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 66, Article 7 "On theft and robbery").
Of course, in saying this, he was only repeating in more scholarly terms what saints like John Damascene, Ambrose and Augustine had already been teaching their flocks.