Wise Words in “Amoris Laetitia”: Part 1

There is much wisdom to be found in Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”), but at over 200 pages long it’s not always easy to pick out the wise words from all the prose. This project sifts through the wisdom Pope Francis has provided for us in this document. Each part of this project contains quotes (in italic font) from Amoris Laetitia that I believe contain wise words. Each quote is accompanied by a few of my own words (in normal font) to shed light on that wisdom.

I encourage everyone to read Amoris Laetitia for themselves. You can download a free copy from the Vatican website. For those that haven’t read it, this list of quotes can serve as an index to skip to just the most important parts of the document. For those that have already read it, my commentary accompanying each quote can supplement or reinforce what you read before.

Headings indicate the main section or chapter in Amoris Laetitia that a list of quotes comes from. Quotes are numbered according to the paragraph they come from in Amoris Laetitia. If multiple quotes come from the same paragraph, I add a dash and a number for clarification (e.g. 5-1, 5-2). Some paragraphs are skipped because they summarize other parts of the document or feature more common knowledge most people will already know.

Introduction

1 For all the many signs of crisis in the institution of marriage, “the desire to marry and form a family remains vibrant, especially among young people…”

It can be easy to get discouraged and lose hope in marriage due to the many negative statistics we have about it. Divorce rates are skyrocketing. Many couples cohabitate instead of getting married. We see news about child abuse and domestic violence pretty much daily. However, despite all these bad things, the majority of people look up to marriage as a good ideal for happiness and joy. The fact that so many young people believe in this gives us hope for the future.

2-1 The complexity of the issues that arose revealed the need for continued open discussion of a number of doctrinal, moral, spiritual, and pastoral questions.

Many issues have arisen that threaten marriage, including the high divorce rate, remarriage after divorce, popular support for abortion, prevalent use of contraception, and the emergence of same-sex marriage. The Church has preached against all of these for years, and yet they have continued to grow in popularity. Therefore, the Church must find a whole new way to communicate the harm of these activities while gently leading people back to the truth. It has to be done right the first time. Otherwise people will just be pushed further away. As a result, the proper approach is going to take a long time to discover. The synod was just a start. Years of work are still ahead to fight these evils. It’s likely that these evils will always exist in some form, but much improvement is possible.

2-2 The debates carried on in the media, in certain publications and even among the Church’s ministers, range from an immoderate desire for total change without sufficient reflection or grounding, to an attitude that would solve everything by applying general rules or deriving undue conclusions from particular theological considerations.

This is a long way of saying we should avoid extremes, good advice for these times. One extreme is to just throw out past Church teaching and replace it with teaching that would be popular in the world. This would address the problem of the popular world ignoring the wisdom of the Church, but the unacceptable cost would be the Church abandoning the truth. This obviously cannot happen. The other extreme is mandating blanket rules for all people, no matter the situation. This also cannot happen since people are not robots or clones. They have different circumstances that affect what they should or should not do. As 2-1 states above, the problem is complex. The two extremes may be quick and easy but neither are acceptable.

3 Since ‘time is greater than space’, I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium.

This quote explains Pope Francis’ approach to making positive change in the world. The Church is not here to write laws for every miniscule detail of life. Instead, it simply gives people the main idea or guideline on how to live holy. Applying that broad guideline to an individual person is a matter of discernment, which might require the aid of a priest or spiritual director but is ultimately the responsibility of the individual believer.

Chapter 1: The Light of the Word

8 The Bible is full of families, births, love stories and family crises. This is true from its very first page, with the appearance of Adam and Eve’s family with all its burden of violence but also its enduring strength (cf. Gen 4) to its very last page, where we behold the wedding feast of the Bride and the Lamb (Rev 21:2, 9).

Many times people ask, “why are Catholics and the Church so focused on families?” The reason is clear. In the Bible every story has to do with family to some extent. The story of civilization is the story of family. It’s very important to think about family. When families are doing well, civilization is doing well. On the other hand, if families are struggling or failing, civilization will follow.

When addressing a problem, you always start with the source. We have many problems in the world, but many of them start with family troubles such as neglect and abuse. For example, look at minority neighborhoods. They have some of the highest poverty rates. How do we reduce that poverty? By improving families in those neighborhoods. If we can ensure all children have a stable household with two parents plus friends and relatives for support, both parents and children will be more successful, leading to future generations with less poverty.

9 [The father and mother] embody the primordial divine plan clearly spoken of by Christ himself: “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female?” (Mt 19:4).

Marriage is a divine plan of God. He created humans male and female to fulfill this plan. Everyone is naturally called to marriage. Some people do not get married due to circumstances beyond their control, such as disease or severe injury, but they are still called to marriage which may cause suffering. Other people receive a supernatural call by God to do something special with their lives (religious life). Without that supernatural calling, those people would also be called to marriage.

10 Does [“image of God” (Gen 1:27)] mean that sex is a property of God himself, or that God has a divine female companion, as some ancient religions held? Naturally, the answer is no.

Pope Francis corrects those that would take the Bible’s use of “image” literally. When the Bible says male and female were made in the image of God, it does not mean God is actually male and female. In fact, God is something greater. He cannot simply be pinned down to one sex. He contains all that it is to be human plus the infiniteness of his divine person. So all of the male traits like strength are in God plus all of the female traits like gentleness also exist in God plus infinitely more. God is everything in one being.

11 …the couple’s fruitful relationship becomes an image for understanding and describing the mystery of God himself, for in the Christian vision of the Trinity, God is contemplated as Father, Son and Spirit of love. The triune God is a communion of love, and the family is its living reflection.

Seeing the human family gives us a clue as to its Creator. In the human family, there are parents and children. In the divine family, there is a parent (the Father) and a child (the Son). In addition, the love between parents bears fruit in the form a child just as the love between the Father and Son bears fruit in the form of the Holy Spirit. Marriage and family are evidence for the existence of God and the three divine Persons.

12-1 …we see the man, who anxiously seeks “a helper fit for him” (vv. 18, 20), capable of alleviating the solitude which he feels amid the animals and the world around him.

Pope Francis explains the incompleteness of man and how he needs woman to complete him. As I wrote for 9 above, marriage is a natural calling. Everyone at a certain point longs for another. They just don’t want to be alone anymore. Some people are made complete by marrying the Church (priesthood) or marrying God (consecrated life). The rest are made complete by marrying another human, the opposite sex. Of course, our Pope is looking at the ideal of marriage here. Many people in real life do not get married due to impairment, illness, or other reasons.

12-2 …for where love is concerned, silence is always more eloquent than words.

This is a beautiful poetic statement about true love. While we speak in words, God has no need for it. Love is more powerful than words. I’m sure you can remember an experience where someone aided you before you even asked. In love a person can be so attuned to the other that they just know their needs and how to address them before a single word is spoken. Also think about how God speaks to us. It’s very rare that he speaks in audible words. Almost always it’s in the silence of our hearts. This is a hint at what heaven will be like. We will be so close to God and everyone else in heaven, we won’t even need words. This doesn’t mean heaven will be silent, but it will definitely be quieter than earth.

Read the other parts:

May the Lord guide you on your faith journey,
Jared

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What is Good Prayer?

You can’t live a good, holy life without consulting God on a regular basis. Prayer is the primary way we receive guidance and support from God (CCC 2566, 2611), so it’s super important to have a good prayer life. If you don’t, you will slowly move in a different direction than God, possibly wandering far away from where God wants you. If your prayer life is not doing well, you will get tired of prayer and likely abandon it. If your prayer life is doing great, you will look forward to prayer everyday and can’t imagine life without it. This is achieved through good prayer.

Good prayer is peaceful, relaxed, and easy. There is no effort involved. When you have a stressful day, you look forward to your prayer to calm you down. Good prayer warms the heart. Whether dealing with depression or sorrow, you feel the love of God in your prayer. No matter how bad you feel when you start, you always feel better after. Good prayer is desirable. When you forget to pray or don’t have the time, you feel something missing in your life. You look forward to your prayer time every day after work. Good prayer is meaningful. You’re mind isn’t blank when you pray. It is full of hopes, dreams, love, sadness, anger, and a deep longing to be with God. Good prayer is revealing. During prayer you unveil the depths of your soul to God and God unveils part of his essence, an insight that leads to a deeper understanding of your Creator. Good prayer is such a wonderful gift from God, but how do you get there?

The keys to good prayer are trusting God, understanding how you relate to God, and having a dedicated time and place for prayer. You have to trust that God exists and is listening when you pray (CCC 2609-2610). For new believers, prayer many times feels empty or stale. It takes time and dedication to become sensitive to the presence of God. Some people will hear the voice of God, but this is extremely rare. Most people only have the “feeling” of God, and it’s usually only barely perceptible in prayer. The closer you get to God, the more sensitive you are to his presence. Very holy people feel God throughout the day in everything they do.

If you start a new prayer habit, do not give up if you don’t feel like the prayer is doing anything. Just keep praying. Eventually, you will start to feel something (CCC 2613). It probably won’t be every time you sit down to pray. Unfortunately, on earth God will always be distant. Most people will barely feel God even after years of prayer, but occasionally you will have a really intense prayer session. Those times you are blessed with a small taste of what heaven will be like, something to look forward to after your resurrection.

Trusting God is important to good prayer, but it’s also important to understand how to you relate to God. As Creator of all the living, God is the father of everyone. Just as a child learns from his or her father or asks him for help, we as adults learn from God and ask him for help (CCC 2564). Remember when you were growing up at home and how you interacted with your father. Hopefully, you had daily communication with your father. That is how your relationship should be with God in prayer (CCC 2565). If you’re father was missing or emotionally absent, God can fill in as the perfect father.

When you talk to God in prayer, it should be the same as how you talk to a best friend, close relative, or spouse. You should be comfortable saying anything on your mind and not worry about being made fun of or taken advantage of. You should speak from the heart, not from a script. When talking to a human you can congratulate them, look up to them, thank them, ask them for something, give them something, or talk about others with them. All of these ways of communicating work pretty much same with God through the prayers of praise, adoration, thanksgiving, petition, offering, and intercession (CCC 2626-2643). The best part about prayer is that God is perfect. Even people we really trust on earth can sometimes treat us badly, but God is perfectly good. He will never do anything to harm us, so we can always look to prayer for a deep conversation with the Father we love.

Lastly, you need to get away from others in a quiet place for good prayer to happen (CCC 2602). Similar to how kids spend times with their parents as a group and one-on-one, every Catholic needs some alone time with God. This is where those deepest prayers can happen. To prevent other people from barging in on your time with God, you will probably have to dedicate certain times of the day for prayer. This might be in the morning before others get up or at night after everyone has gone to bed. Maybe the home is too chaotic, so you have to go to a nearby park, church, or some other peaceful place away from others. Whatever you choose, you have to get away from distractions to be able to pray deeply.

Good prayer is something that has to be worked on, but the reward is invaluable to Catholic life. Going from a life alone to a life with God is night and day. You will go from a shallow and dull life to a life full of meaning and purpose. It’s all through continued good prayer. I am a cradle Catholic who has prayed for decades, but I still continue to improve my prayer every year. The reward for this effort has been a deeper and deeper relationship with God as the years go by. It is just so comforting and pleasing throughout the day being with God. Some days I suffer a lot or people treat me badly, but it just doesn’t bother me much because I am with God. You, too, can have this peace and support if you work on good prayer a little every day.

May God bless you with his abundant grace,
Jared

The Depth of the Commandments According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church

While The Ten Commandments are popularly known as God’s rules for Christians to live by, there really is just one commandment: the commandment to love. All the others follow from just this one overarching commandment. The commandment to love can be split into two more specific commandments: love God and love one another. The commandments to love God and one another can then be expanded further into The Ten Commandments. The first through third commandments involve loving God. The fourth through tenth commandments involve loving one another.

Every single sin can be described by how it opposes one of these commandments. There are no sins that do not fit under a commandment. In some cases, it’s not clear why a sin fits under a commandment, but that’s where the Catechism of the Catholic Church fits in. It explains each commandment in detail including all the opposing sins.

Interesting is the fact that the ninth and tenth commandments are more extensions of the sixth and seventh commandments than entirely new commandments. The sixth commandment (“You shall not commit adultery.”) covers the sinful actions related to impurity while the ninth commandment (“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.”) covers the sinful thoughts related to impurity. The seventh and tenth commandments follow the same model except covering sinful actions (seventh) and thoughts (tenth) related to stealing.

I have summarized this information in the chart below. It starts at the top with the commandment to love, then to love God and one another, then to the ten commandments, and finally, the sins that oppose those commandments. I have made the ninth and tenth commandments extensions of the sixth and seventh commandments, all under Love One Another. The commandments are in circles with orange text while the sins are in rectangles with red text. In parentheses next to each sin is the reference number of the corresponding passage in the Catechism of the Catholic Church for further reading.

The commandments and their opposing sins.

Click image to view full screen.

May God bless you with his abundant grace,
Jared

What Being Catholic Means to Me

I was born into a Catholic family, but I really just went through the motions when it came to practicing the faith. I learned about religion in school, and my regular family activities involved going to church and receiving the Sacraments. I liked to please everyone, so I did what my teachers and parents wanted. Entertainment was what drove me though. Early on, it was toys like action figures and Legos, later it was movies and video games. I didn’t really care about anything but having fun. This remained the same until I graduated from college.

By this time video games had become my favorite source of fun. There was an endless amount of new games coming out, and I wanted to play them all. All my plans and goals were centered around games. I had lists of what I had done in existing games and what I wanted to do in the future with those games. I also had lists of all the future games I wanted to get and the things I wanted to do in them. In short, all I cared about was short term pleasure. When I got bored with one game, I always had another lined up to keep me entertained. This kept me busy in the moment, but one day I just felt like I needed to be doing more.

Since the only other thing I did regularly besides video games was go to church, I decided to focus on the Catholic faith. I immediately saw many ways to improve myself. While working on improvement goals, I became aware of the power of prayer. I also discovered that there was an endless amount of studying I could do about the faith. In addition to the Bible, there were countless writings by the Popes, Church Fathers, Saints, and fellow lay Catholics I could read and think about.

Just like there was always another video game to play, there was always another way to improve myself, another prayer to say, or another Catholic work to study. Unlike video games, which was just about short term pleasure, these activities were about the long term. These things would contribute to my salvation or the salvation of others. Going to heaven is a big deal, so these activities were all important. That made me really happy. I didn’t really know what I was looking for when I started focusing on the Catholic faith, but I found it. I was looking for purpose in my life.

Being Catholic means being part of something bigger than myself. This purpose drives all of my actions. I do have free time, where I just do what I want, but a lot of times I am thinking about how I can help myself or others get to heaven. I realize my actions can have a huge impact, mostly on myself but also on the few other people I am able to interact with during my life. I can’t be Jesus and help everyone, but I can help just a few people. All of my actions contribute to Jesus’ overall mission of saving souls.

Being Catholic means being part of a family. At the local level, I have my parish family that continually prays for all the needs in our community. At the national level, I have the U.S. clergy that are all working towards improving the sanctity of the country. At the global level, I have the Church in Rome directing the world towards holiness. Finally, there is the Communion of Saints at the spiritual level that encompasses everything. All of God’s children have a unique connection to each other, especially during prayer. I have all these people pulling for me to get to heaven. I am never alone. In addition, I always have a good friend to talk to in God.

Being Catholic means losing a lot of worries. I don’t have to wonder what I should be doing. I still have free will to decide how I will seek holiness for myself or others, but I always know right from wrong. I know what will lead me to holiness and what will hold me back. The faith allows me to ignore many useless short term things and focus on the things that have meaning in the long run. I don’t have to worry about death because I believe in eternal life. Just as a child goes through puberty to become mature, a person must go through death to go to heaven. I don’t have to worry too much about the future. I only have to make sure I am doing good in the present. The future will work itself out.

Being Catholic means understanding what true love is. It’s not about what I am getting out of the situation. It’s what I can do for others. I might not get anything in return during this life, but it will all be rewarded in heaven. God will give me something for my good actions. True love is sacrifice. That doesn’t mean I have to kill myself to help others, but I do need to be regularly expending energy for others in some way. It means always being able to love others even in the worst of times.

Being Catholic also means having high standards. The way of Jesus is very hard. I can’t just go through life doing whatever I want. I constantly work to avoid sin. Until I die I will never be able to truly rest. There are times when avoiding sin is easy, which can function as a time of rest, but avoiding sin is mostly a constant battle. In addition to avoiding sin, I also have to find opportunities to serve others. I can’t just keep to myself. I have to give back in some way. I push myself as much as I can with these things. Sometimes I work too hard on these things and have to force myself take breaks. This always reminds me of my human weakness, which I look forward to overcoming when I am purified in purgatory.

Despite how hard it is being Catholic, I absolutely love the faith. In good times and bad, it always keeps me going. I might not know exactly what God wants me to be doing, but I know what actions are good. I know the possible choices. Life is a lot easier without the pressure to make all these decisions alone. God and the Church are there helping me. Some days I’m more interested in the faith than others, but I never get truly bored. A lot of times I will be having a lot of fun with some entertainment, but it eventually ends. I become bored with it. That doesn’t happen with the faith. There is always something meaningful to do related to my Catholic faith.

No matter how secular the world becomes, I will never leave the faith. I love it too much. As long as I live, I will be doing my best to become a saint and help the people around me to do the same. Some of those efforts will be through this website, and some will be in other areas of my life, but I will always be participating in Jesus’ mission to save souls.

May God bless you with his abundant grace,
Jared

The Top Ten Qualities of Jesus According to the Bible

One of my first religious books was Be a Man by Fr. Larry Richards. My father bought this book for me during a Catholic Men’s Conference. One of Fr. Larry’s bold claims in the book was that if the reader did all of the tasks he put forth, he would become a real man. Most of the tasks were pretty easy for me, but some of them required a lot of work.

One task involved the reader writing down all of Jesus’ qualities in the Gospels, and then praying for God to give them these qualities. I’m not sure how far Fr. Larry intended the reader to go, but I went all the way with the task. I read all the Gospels line by line, writing down the qualities I believed Jesus was exhibiting through his actions. I also made note of how often he displayed each quality. At the end of it all, I had a list of 23 qualities, which I then ranked according to frequency.

For this list I kept just the top then qualities. For each quality, I included the total number of references from all four Gospels for that quality along with the breakdown from each Gospel. Some Bible references involved multiple qualities, so the same reference may appear under multiple qualities. Now for the list:

The Top Ten Qualities of Jesus

1. Teaching and Wisdom

This was the most frequent quality by far. It was around three times more frequent than the second place quality. Jesus knew he couldn’t live forever, so he had to teach the apostles and anyone else who would listen the most important parts of the Christian faith. Jesus founded the church, but his followers had to build it. This is the beauty of education. As long as the knowledge is passed on, it never dies. It will last forever. That was critical because Jesus was founding the eternal Church that would last forever. It would exist until the end of time on Earth as well is in eternal Heaven.

Jesus also had great wisdom. Giving the apostles this wisdom, they could focus their efforts on things that mattered in the long run, not waste time on useless things like amassing wealth. Catholics are all called to convert the world to faith in God. Today, this would be called spreading the Gospel. The Gospel is the wisdom of God. It is the recipe for eternal happiness. We don’t have to be teachers in front of a group. We can teach any individual we come across.

Total Gospel References: 238

Matthew: 52 references Mark: 42 references
4:13-14
5:1-48
6:1-34
7:1-29
8:3,13,15,16,20,32
9:6,22,25,29,32
12:3,5,25-37,43-45,48-50
13:3-9,24-33,44-50
14:27, 15:4,10-11,16-20
16:12,26
17:11-12,20
18:3-5,14,18-20,35
19:9
20:16,26-28
21:21,31-32,43-44
22:14,29-32,37-40,43-45
23:12,20-22
24:23-28,32-33,36-51
25:1-30
26:41
2:2,17,19-22,27-28
3:4,23-29,33-35
4:3-9,13-32
6:2,34
7:14-15,18-23
8:17-21,34-38
9:12-13,23,29,35-37,39-41,42-50
10:4-9,11-12,14-15,18-21,23-25,27,29-31,38-40,42-45
11:22-25
12:1-9,17,24-27,29-31,38-40,43-44
13:28,33-37
14:7,22-24,49
Luke: 67 references John: 77 references
4:24-28,31
5:3,10,22-24,31-32,34-39
6:3-5,20-49
7:24-35,40-47
8:4-8,10-18
9:23-27,48,50
10:20,23-24,26,28
30-37,41-42
11:2-13,17-26,28-36
12:1-12,14-40,42-48,57-59
13:3-9,11-13,16-33,37-52,57
14:3,5,8-14,16-24,26-35
15:4-32
16:1-13,16-31
17:1-4,6-10,20-37
18:2-8,10-14,16-17,24-25,27,29-30
19:12-27
20:9-16,18,34-38,41-44,46-47
21:3-4
22:25-30,35-38,48,52-53,67-68,70
24:27,29-30,41-45
1:48,50
3:3,5-8,10-15
4:10,13-14,21-24,26,32,34-38,48
5:17,19-47
6:5-6,26-27,29,32-33,35-40,44,46-51,53-58,60-65,67-70
7:4,6-7,16-19,21-24,28-29
8:2,12,14-19,23,25-26,28-29,31-32,34-47,49-51,54-56,58
9:41
10:1-5,7-18,25-30
11:9-10,14-15,25-25
12:7-8,24-26,30,35-36,44-50
13:8,10,12-17,20
14:3-4,6-7,9-21,23-31
15:1-11,13-16,18-24,26-27
16:4-7,9-12,21,23-24,27-28,33
18:34,36
19:11,29
20:15,17,29

2. Faith, Trust, and Prophecy

Jesus continually told the apostles they had to trust him. Things always happened how he described they would happen. Once the apostles trusted him, he could bring in the idea of faith. This is seeing without believing. The apostles were able to experience some miracles the average person doesn’t get to see, but they didn’t get to see all that Jesus promised come to pass in their lives. They had to have faith. Jesus himself had faith towards his father in heaven, God. The ability to prophesy is a special gift no human normally has. Jesus was God, so he could prophesy. Without faith there can be no belief, so every Catholic must have faith. When we fully believe in something, it’s easy to talk about it with others. We can’t follow Jesus’ example of prophesying, but we can repeat all his prophecy to nonbelievers. In this way we are aiding Jesus in his act of prophesying.

Total Gospel References: 104

Matthew: 20 references Mark: 22 references
8:26
10:19
16:21
17:22-23
20:18-19
21:5,42
22:44
24:2,4-22,29-31,36-44
25:31-46
26:2,18,21,31-32,34,45-46,56
1:15
2:25-26
4:12
7:6-8,10
8:31
9:1,31
10:33-34
11:17
12:10-11,35-37
13:2,5-32
14:9,18,20-21,25,27-28,30,41-42,62
Luke: 22 references John: 40 references
4:21,23,43
7:22-23,27
8:50
9:22,44
12:49-56
13:14-15
18:31-33
19:46
20:17,42-43
21:6,8-36
22:10-12,15-22,34,69
23:29-30
24:46-49
1:51
2:4,19
4:17-18,21,23
5:25,28
6:45,70-71
7:33-34,37-38
8:21,24
9:4
11:11,23,41-42
12:23,27,31-32
13:1-5,7,11,18-19,21,26-27,31-33,36,38
15:25
16:1-4,8,13-16,20,22-23,25-26,32
18:37
21:18

3. Leadership

Because Jesus had the wisdom of God, he knew what everyone should be doing. Someone that has wisdom can be a natural leader. They know things that others don’t. Not only that, wisdom is knowledge that leads to success. It betters the lives of people that have it. When people know someone is wise, they go to that person for advice. This happened with Jesus, but it’s also a calling of every Catholic to use the wisdom they have learned from God for the good of the world. Religion comes up in conversation all the time. It is then that we must do our best to lead people to Jesus, and ultimately, to eternal happiness.

Total Gospel References: 65

Matthew: 7 references Mark: 17 references
3:14-15
7:29
10:5
14:31,18-20
26:26-29
28:18-20
1:17,20,22
2:14
3:14-15
4:39-40
6:7-11,35-39
8:15
9:2,19,21
11:2-3
14:13-15,32,34
16:15-18
Luke: 21 references John: 20 references
4:32
5:3-4,14,27
6:13
8:22,39,55-56
9:1-5,13-14,41
10:1-12
18:20,22,40
19:5,30-31
22:8,17-20,40,46,51
1:38-39,42-43
2:7-8
4:7
5:14
6:10,12
7:3,8
9:7
11:39,43-44
13:34-35
14:1
15:12,17
20:21-23
21:15-17,19,23

4. Healing

Jesus was a great healer, but he didn’t use it just to make money or gain fame. Instead, Jesus used his healings to convert people to the faith. We humans can’t heal the way Jesus did, but we can aid people that are sick or injured. For those with terminal illness, we can be a loving presence to comfort them in their last days. For those with a simple cold, we can help out with some of their chores or other responsibilities for a short time. We can’t directly heal them, but we can aid the healing process. Doctors and nurses have a more direct way of fulfilling this quality, but everyone can help heal in some way.

Total Gospel References: 63

Matthew: 20 references Mark: 14 references
4:23-24
8:3,13,15,16,32
9:6,22,25,29,32
12:13,22
14:14,36
15:30
17:18
19:2
20:34
21:14
1:25,31,34,41-42
2:11-12
3:5
6:5,56
7:29,33-35
8:23-25
9:25,27
10:52
Luke: 24 references John: 5 references
4:35,39,40
5:13,24-25
6:10,18
7:9,14,21
8:30,32,44-46,52,54
9:11,42,58,60,62
11:14
13:4
17:14-15
22:51
4:50
5:8
6:10-13
9:3-7
11:43

5. Reproaching and Rebuking

Jesus showed disapproval of others’ sinful actions in both of these ways, though rebuke was a more severe response than reproach. Jesus used whatever technique was best to the audience to get the message across. Most times he only had to tell someone the truth and they listened. A few times Jesus knew they would not respond unless he really got their attention through a harsh rebuke. In our lives, we sometimes do need to be severe in our rejection of sin. Certainly, if we know a loved one is committing mortal sin, we need to be pretty clear how serious their situation is. We also need to rebuke when someone is tempting us to commit mortal sin ourselves, as Jesus did when he referred to Peter as Satan.

Total Gospel References: 37

Matthew: 6 references Mark: 12 references
11:21,23
12:39
16:4
17:18
26:23-24
1:25
2:8,17
4:39
8:11-12,33
9:25
11:14
12:15
14:6,37-38
16:14
Luke: 18 references John: 1 references
4:35,39,41
8:24-25,30,32
9:21,41-42,55
10:13-16
11:39-44,46-52
16:15
19:40
20:3,8,24-25
24:25-26
6:43

6. Forgiveness, Mercy, and Repentance

When people repented of their evil actions, Jesus had mercy on them and forgave them. The apostles all sinned. So did the nonbelievers. Jesus was always willing to forgive if someone was sorry for their actions. Even more, he taught the apostles that they had to forgive too. As God had no limits on forgiveness, the apostles could have no limits either. It’s the same for us. We must always be ready to forgive someone when ask for it. We can’t hold a grudge. As God does when we go to confession, we must forget the sins they have committed against us, erase them from our mind. They do not exist.

Total Gospel References: 33

Matthew: 14 references Mark: 3 references
4:2
8:3,13,15,16,32
9:6,13,22,25,29,32
15:28
17:7
1:43-44
2:5
3:10
Luke: 10 references John: 6 references
4:2
5:20
7:48,50
8:48
17:17-19
18:41-42
19:9-10
23:34,43
4:16
5:6
8:7,10-11
20:27
21:15-17

7. Courage and Calmness

These two qualities are slightly different but also very related. Jesus urged the apostles not to be anxious about their future. The only thing they had to worry about was following God’s will in the commandments and what Jesus taught them. Then they could look forward to eternal life in heaven. Jesus warned them that most of them would be killed just like he was, but they still had their work to do. They couldn’t be all worried about the suffering they would go through. This required courage. They had to do the right thing no matter how bad it would be for them. Like the apostles, Catholics today are called to have the same courage because being Catholic is not easy. It is much easier to just live a life of sin. That’s what we are constantly tempted to do, but we follow a higher order, from God himself, to be good in our actions. We can’t worry about how this will cause us to suffer, we just have to do it.

Total Gospel References: 31

Matthew: 14 references Mark: 9 references
10:19
15:3,13
19:3
21:12-13,24
23:2-3,13-19,23-36
26:52-54,55,63-64
27:11-12,14
3:21-22
6:50
7:9,11-13
11:29-30,33
14:61
15:2,5
Luke: 2 references John: 6 references
6:8-11
23:3
7:10
10:32,34-38
18:4-5,7-8,23

8. Retreats

Jesus was God but even he had to get away from the crowds sometimes. It was then that he went on a retreat with the apostles. He used this time to teach the apostles without distractions, but a big part of Jesus’ retreats was praying to God. Jesus had a human body, which could be hurt like any of our bodies. He needed to get strength from God through prayer. He couldn’t do that in the city with all the noise. He had to get away. We need to do the same thing in our lives. We don’t have to go on formal retreats all the time, but we should try to get away from distractions a few minutes each day for our prayers. We can also take a day off to just focus on God. Not everyone has a schedule that allows this, but we should look for opportunities to spend time with God in our lives. That is what heaven will be. We can get a taste of heaven when we retreat from the world, no matter short it is.

Total Gospel References: 28

Matthew: 5 references Mark: 9 references
8:18
13:36
14:13,22-23
26:36
1:35
3:7,13
4:35
6:31
7:24,33
8:9-10
9:30
Luke: 10 references John: 4 references
4:1-2,42
5:16
6:12
9:10,18,28
13:36
21:37
22:39
6:3,15
8:1
18:1

9. Compassion and Pity

Because Jesus loved everyone so much, he had a deep sense of compassion whenever they were suffering. Some people were suffering because of original sin (illness), others were suffering because of the sins of others. No matter what, Jesus did not like to see people suffer. When he came across suffering, he did his best to remedy it. Compassion comes from pity, so we must have pity on the people of the world too. This should give us a sense of solidarity with the suffering of the world, urging us to help them if we are able. That solidarity also helps when we are suffering ourselves. We don’t feel alone because we know countless people are praying for our well-being.

Total Gospel References: 17

Matthew: 6 references Mark: 4 references
9:36
14:14
15:28,32
20:34
28:10
1:41
6:34
8:2-3
10:49
Luke: 5 references John: 2 references
7:13
18:56
23:28-31
24:36,38-40
6:20
11:33

10. Friendship and Love

Jesus is love, so it made sense that this quality would be in him. In fact, every quality on this list is part of love. However, I only marked down a quality as part of love if it did not fit anywhere else. A big part of love was friendship. Jesus showed the apostles how to be a good friend and told them to go out and make new friends. Many of these friends went on to become great church leaders themselves. Even their laypeople friends contributed to the spread of the faith. We can’t really help anyone without love. It is the core of everything we do. We might express that love in many different ways, but they are all part of love.

Total Gospel References: 13

Matthew: 4 references Mark: 2 references
4:19
16:24
26:10-13,50
10:16
12:34
Luke: 2 references John: 5 references
22:31-32
24:50
11:5-6
19:26-27
20:19,21
21:12-13

I must note that these qualities were based on my own subjective interpretation of the Bible readings. My findings may also be influenced by the translation I used: New American Bible – Revised Edition (NABRE). If you repeated this same exercise, you would most likely get different results, but hopefully they would be similar to mine. I encourage you to do this exercise for your own growth in the faith. Jesus is the example we should always be following. It is good to know some qualities we should be emulating in our lives.

The Remaining Qualities

For anyone curious, here are the rest of the qualities I noted down when reading the Gospels:

Sadness and Fear (12) – Matthew (4) 26:38-39,42-44, 27:46,50; Mark (4) 3:5, 6:45-46, 14:34-35, 15:34; Luke (3) 19:42-44, 22:42-44, 23:46; John (1) 11:35
Obedience (10) – Matthew (1) 10:37; Mark (1) 14:36; Luke (5) 2:49, 4:4,8,12,18-19; John (3) 17:1-26, 18:11, 19:30
Feeding the Hungry (8) – Matthew (2) 14:16, 15:36-37; Mark (2) 6:41-43, 8:6-9; Luke (2) 5:6, 9:16-17; John (2) 21:5-6,10-11
Glory and Praise to God (8) – Matthew (1) 11:25; Mark (1) 14:23; Luke (3) 7:9, 10:18-19,21-22; John (3) 11:4, 12:28, 17:1-26
Humility (7) – Matthew (4) 3:14-15, 21:5, 27:11,142; John (3) 18:20-21, 20:20,27
Life Purpose and Efficiency with Time (5) – Matthew (3) 9:15, 10:14, 13:58; Mark (1) 1:38; John (1) 21:22
Invitation (5) – Matthew (1) 11:28; Luke (1) 8:21; John (3) 9:35,37, 11:7
Anger (3) – Mark 3:5; Luke 19:45; John 2:15-16
Value of Life (2) – Matthew 12:15; John 11:54
Truth (1) – John 1:47
Righteousness and Justice (1) – Matthew 18:6-9
Law Abiding (1) – Matthew 17:27, 21:22
Caring (1) – Matthew 19:14

May God bless you with his abundant grace,
Jared