Day 39: Slavery in the Old Testament

Exodus 21:1-11 Slavery as practiced by the Israelites was not as abusive or harsh as the various forms of slavery practiced throughout history. Israel treated slaves with great dignity, and the laws articulated here were designed to avoid abuses. (CCC 549)

CIVIL AUTHORITIES MUST RESPECT THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS and freedom of the human person. It is by serving the needs and betterment of the individual that civil authority contributes to the common good. Authority is properly exercised when its laws and governance reflect NATURAL LAW. For their part, citizens should collaborate with civil authorities to establish and promote a spirit of TRUTH, JUSTICE, SOLIDARITY, and FREEDOM.

Ch 21:12-36 The harsh penalties for these sins emphasize the importance of abiding by the Fourth, Sixth, and Seventh Commandments in ordering civil society. Penalties involving slaves were different from those involving free persons, but the Law still gave them protection against abuse. Throughout the Old Testament, God prepared his people for the coming of the Messiah through a GRADUAL process, and the arrival of Jesus marked the ideal time for the Mosaic Law to be dramatically perfected by the long-awaited Messiah. Though Christ reflected the Law and revealed the priceless value of the humans person, he did not eliminate every violation of human dignity; his mission was to free humanity from its SLAVERY TO SIN. (CCC 549, 2455)

Ch 21:22-25 Accidentally provoking a miscarriage or abortion was a punishable offense; this indicates that the Israelites cherished human life from the moment of conception. Throughout Christian history, the Church has ALWAYS regarded the unborn child as a person from the moment of conception and has ALWAYS considered abortion a grave offense against human life. (CCC 2270-2273, 2274, 2322)

THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT, which forbids the intentional destruction of innocent human life, requires that the faithful work for the AVOIDANCE OF WAR, which may only be waged in defense against an unjust aggressor. Legitimate defense by military means must satisfy several criteria, including the degree of damage caused by the aggressor, whether or not a response is proportionate, having exhausted ALL realistic peaceful solutions, and the existence of a reasonable prospect for success. The moral law also governs the conduct of war itself; for example, indiscriminate killing of civilians is PROHIBITED, and the wounded and imprisoned MUST be treated HUMANELY.

Psalm 75 For the just and righteous, God’s judgement is an occasion for rejoicing. This prayer of thanksgiving vindicates the psalmist, who so often had suffered under false accusations and belittlement for his faith in God and who now sees the downfall of his enemies. This hymn translates easily as a Chritian prayer of thanksgiving on account of all the “wondrous deeds” God has accomplished for us in Christ and the joyful expectation of his Second Coming. (CCC 224, 2612, 2648)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through the Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)  

Prayer by Fr Mike: "Father in Heaven we give you praise and thank you. We thank you for your Word. We thank you for convicting us and for challenging us with how you reveal yourself to us. You reveal yourself to us so slowly and incrementally. Lord, you meet us where we are at. You stoop down to us, not to leave us there, but to raise us up to you. Help us to recognize your divine condescension, your gentle and helpful condescension meeting us in our brokenness, meeting us in our woundedness, and beginning where we are so that we can end up where you are. Thank you. We make this prayer and ask you to please receive our thanks in the name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen."