Question: Is there an appropriate name for our Savior in the context of certain situations? Should we refer to him as Jesus, Christ, Jesus Christ, Christ Jesus, etc.?
— Name Withheld, Norwood, Mass.
Answer: As your question suggests, how we address Jesus will vary in certain contexts. Perhaps it is most important to distinguish at the outset that “Christ” is not part of Jesus’ proper name, but rather is his title. In this sense, it sometimes helps to put “the” in front of Christ, saying “Jesus the Christ.” Jesus is “the Christ,” which means “the anointed one” and translates the Hebrew word “Messiah.”
“Jesus” means, in Hebrew, “God saves.” To put all of this together in English, his name and title might be rendered “Anointed Lord and Savior.”
While it is certainly fine for us to call him simply by his proper name, “Jesus,” in the formal liturgy of the Church we often speak of him more fully, such as, “Christ our Lord,” or “Our Lord Jesus Christ,” and so forth.
All this said, it must be added that there are more than 100 titles of Jesus and ways of referring to him in the Scriptures that can also be appropriate ways of referring to him in certain circumstances. For example he is called Alpha and Omega, Author and Finisher of our Faith, Son of David, Son of Man, Good Shepherd, Emanuel, I AM, King of Israel, the Way the Truth and the Life, Light of the World, Redeemer, Teacher, Rabbi, Son of God, Son of Mary, True Vine and so forth.
Thus, we do well to remember that the magnificent truth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, often requires us to speak of him in many ways, pondering his glory from many different perspectives through these titles.
Avoiding high taxes
Question: Many people I know travel over the state border here to purchase things, especially alcoholic beverages, since the nearby state’s sales tax is much lower. Are there moral objections to avoiding taxes in cases like this?
— Name Withheld, Ridley Park, Pa.
Answer: Let me state that I am not a civil lawyer. But let us suppose that there are legitimate laws in place that forbid purchasing and carrying certain items across state lines. Presuming such laws do exist, they ought not be violated. This would be true even if we suppose that such laws are more likely aimed at large distributors rather than citizens. Unless that exception is explicitly indicated in the law or overruled by other constitutional rights, we ought not simply consider ourselves exempt.
It is a general norm for Catholics that we should obey all just laws enacted by civil authorities if they do not violate God’s laws. If such laws displease us, we ought to have recourse, through the political process, to change them, rather than simply ignore them.
If a Catholic violates just civil laws such as this, the gravity of such as sin varies, based on the frequency, purpose and amount of items purchased. If one were to simply purchase a small number of items, more as a convenience, the gravity of such sin would be rather light. However, if one were to repeatedly purchase a large amount of items, this would be a much more egregious violation of civil law, and also bring with it a more significant gravity in violation of moral law related to the Fourth Commandment.
Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian in Washington, D.C., and writes for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., blog at blog.adw.org. Send questions to Pastoral Answers, Our Sunday Visitor, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750 or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters must be signed, but anonymity may be requested.