Context: God’s Great Liberating Event
Remember a few weeks ago when Pope Francis recommended we evangelize before we moralize. He said that when we speak of morals, we need to place them in a context. The context is that Jesus Christ is Savior. It can be very scary to know you are on a dark road and believe all is lost. We need to remind those around us, and ourselves, that Jesus Christ saves.
The word “context” that Pope Francis used stuck into my mind. From time to time, I would remind myself that context must come first. If there is no savior, then who needs salvation? I can tell a male friend that pornography is wrong and go into all the reasons it is destructive, but if I fail to introduce the Savior first, then I may be setting him up for disappointment. Without meeting Jesus, the friend may think I just want to control him. Worse than that, now he knows that porn is harmful but I failed to introduce him to the Divine Physician.
This past week, I was doing preparation work on the Ten Commandments. I enjoy the Catechism of the Catholic Church, so I used it as my primary source of information. As I was going paragraph to paragraph, I ran into number 2057:
The Decalogue must first be understood in the context of the Exodus, God’s great liberating event at the center of the Old Covenant. Whether formulated as negative commandments, prohibitions, or as positive precepts such as: “Honor your father and mother,” the “ten words” point out the conditions of a life freed from the slavery of sin. The Decalogue is a path of life:
The Catechism makes the same point as Pope Francis. Just like the Ten Commandments, context is key to understanding Catholic morals. When explaining the Ten Commandments, we must not forget that the Lord has just taken the Israelites out of slavery and they have begun to grow angry in the desert. The Decalogue was a prescription of freedom to them. When we explain Catholic morals to our friends and neighbors, they need to be in the context of Jesus Christ, Savior. They need to understand that it is Jesus Christ that set us free from our own sin. He has led us out of the desert of our own hell.