DOCAT contents for At-Home Lesson#2

DOCAT# 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 [1]

DOCAT#6 If God created the world out of love, then why is it full of injustice, oppression, and suffering?

God created the world as something good in itself. But man fell away from God, deciding against God’s love and bringing evil into the world. The Bible tells about this in the story of the first sin and fall of Adam and Eve. Human beings—the story about the Tower of Babel explains—wanted to be like God. Since then there has been a flaw in the fabric of the world, a destructive principle. Since then nothing is quite as God planned it to be. Our present decisions also contribute to the fact that there is injustice, oppression, and suffering in this world. Many wrong decisions can sometimes coalesce into structures of evil and sin. The individual must therefore live within a system that on the whole is evil and unjust, and it is not at all easy to distance oneself from it, for example, when a soldier is obliged to participate in an unjust war.

DOCAT#7 Why did God give man the option of doing evil in the first place?

God created man to love. One cannot be forced to love, however; love is always voluntary. If a human being is really to be able to love, he must therefore be free. If there is genuine freedom, however, there is always the possibility also of deciding in a way that is fundamentally wrong. We human beings can even destroy freedom itself.

DOCAT#8 Does God leave man alone after he has turned away from God?

No. God’s “love never ends” (1 Cor 13:8). He goes after us, looks for us in our caves and hiding places, wishes to come into contact with us. He wishes to show us who he is.

DOCAT#9 How can God be found?

God can be found only if he shows himself to us or (to say the same thing with another word) reveals himself to us. We do have by nature an intuition of God and can also recognize through reflection the fact that God exists. But it is beyond our understanding exactly what God is like, what his thoughts and plans are. God himself, therefore, must communicate to us what he is like. He does not do that by sending us an idea, a book, or a political system; he did so by becoming man. In Jesus Christ God revealed himself completely and definitively: God became man so that man might understand who God is. Jesus is God’s language.

DOCAT#10 How did God reveal himself to mankind before Jesus?

The existence of God was never beyond the knowledge of human reason. Over the history of Israel’s faith, God revealed something of his interior life and spoke to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He commanded Moses to free his people from slavery in Egypt. Again and again he called prophets to speak and act publicly in his name.

DOCAT#11 How do the People of Israel respond to God’s communication of himself?

When God shows himself, man must set everything else aside and reflect on how his life is changed in the sight of the living God. Once God is known, nothing can remain as it was. The People of Israel make this clear through their response to the covenant God makes with them. God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai (Ex 19-24). If we obey the Commandments and so try to act justly, then that is our response to God’s loving gift. In that way we have the opportunity to collaborate in God’s master plan for the world and for history.

DOCAT#12 What significance do the Ten Commandments have for our life together?

In the Ten Commandments, God supplies us with the everlasting principles of the good life. We can rely on them as a guide. And this brings about a world as God designed it to be. In them we learn what our duties are—for example, we must not steal from anyone—and at the same time, our rights become clear: no one may steal from us, either. The content of the Ten Commandments is similar to that of natural law, in other words, what is written on the heart of every human being as a notion of good action. In them universal ways of acting are described that are binding for all human beings and cultures. Hence the Ten Commandments are also the basic rules of life together in society.

DOCAT#13 How does God reveal himself in Jesus of Nazareth?

In Jesus Christ, God’s self-revelation reaches its highest point. In his person, as true man and true God, the love of God manifests itself in an absolute and unsurpassable way. In him the Word of God became flesh, as the beginning of the Gospel of John reports. Who God is and how he encounters man becomes visible and even physically tangible in Jesus Christ. So he can say: “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Christ became like to us human beings in everything except sin: consequently, Jesus is the ideal human being, man according to God’s master plan. Jesus lived out the will of God: love. To be a Christian means to come as near to Jesus as possible. Through the sacraments we even enter into Jesus; we become “the Body of Christ”.

DOCAT#14 What is the new commandment of love in the New Testament?

The Golden Rule (“Treat others as you would have them treat you”) is recognized in many cultures as a norm of the good life. The commandment of love in the Old Testament is even more forceful: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18). Jesus intensities the commandment of mutual love and makes it more specific by attaching it to himself and the sacrifice of his life: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). This love is oriented toward community and the individual in equal measure: everyone matters, as a unique, unrepeatable person loved by God—and through love everyone relies on others. Divine love is the beginning of a “civilization of love” (Popes Paul VI and John Paul II), to which all human beings can contribute.

References / Citations

[1] DOCAT: What to do? The Social Teaching of the Catholic Church. San Francisco, Calif: Ignatius Press, 2016.

[2] BibleGateway (online bible).