CATECHESIS NOTES FOR THE WEEK— Table of Duties—To Widows and To Everyone--When someone loses a spouse, what should they do? Whenever we lose any of God’s good gifts, the devil tempts us to fill the void with other things that not only can’t satisfy, but which may actually be sinful and a sign of mistrust of God. This is what the Scriptures refer to as “living for pleasure.” Instead, in the face of losses we are called to move even closer to Christ and His Word, putting our hope and confidence in the Lord who will fill the void of our lives with Himself. Attendance at Divine Service, catechesis, and the mutual conversation and consolation of Christian brothers and sisters is critically important. This leads us to the last section of the Table of Duties:
To Everyone: It is our common faith in Christ and the grace of God that unites us in love for one another, even as Christ loved us. The source of true fulfillment is not in living for one’s self, but in giving of ourselves to one another out of our love for Christ.
CATECHESIS NOTES FOR THE WEEK—The Table of Duties for Youth--“Submission” and “humility” are not terms that any of us naturally gravitate toward. The sinful flesh wants to submit to no one and is filled with arrogance and pride. If the sinful flesh doesn’t get its way, it rebels. From where does the will to “submit” and “humble one’s self” come? It comes from faith in the Gospel. Our Lord Jesus submitted Himself as a young man, because He trusted in His Father who promised to do good through His submission. He humbled Himself to the point of death on the cross, because He trusted His Father to do good through His suffering. When youth are admonished to submit to their elders and humble themselves before them, they are really being invited to trust God to do them good in their office as youth, even though they may have to endure things that they don’t agree with or enjoy. The way of faith is always the way of deference toward others. This we learn to believe through the faithful reception of the Gospel and Sacrament of our Lord.
CATECHESIS NOTES FOR THE WEEK—The Table of Duties: To Workers of All Kinds—How many employees or workers would call themselves “slaves”? Not too many. If one did consider himself a slave, it would not be a complimentary term. Yet “slave” is a term that is often used in the New Testament of our Lord. For Him it is not derogatory. It is a term that describes the nature of His office as one who has come into the world to serve no one but others. He came to serve the Father in love and sinful man in love to the point of dying upon the cross. He had no thought for Himself or His own protection or welfare. He is the ultimate “worker” and in His work we see the true nature of Christian work. We “work” as Christians, not to serve ourselves, but to serve others in love. The characteristic of our work is that it is done for others, even if they do not appreciate it. Selfless love is what motivated Jesus and it is that love to which we are called by faith in the Gospel. Jesus’ selfless love and service to us is reflected in His own words: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Since this is Jesus’ confession about Himself, we should not be adverse to have ourselves called slaves.
CATECHESIS NOTES FOR THE WEEK—The Table of Duties: To Parents and Children—“It would be well to preach to parents on the nature of their office, how they should treat those committed to their authority…God does not want to have knaves or tyrants in this office and responsibility nor does he assign them this honor (that is, power and authority to govern) merely to receive homage. Parents should consider that they owe obedience to God, and that, above all, they should earnestly and faithfully discharge the duties of their office, not only to provide for the material support of their children, servants, subjects, etc., but especially to bring them up to the praise and honor of God…If we want qualified and capable men for both civil and spiritual leadership, we must spare no effort, time, and expense in teaching and educating our children to serve God and mankind. We must not think only of amassing money and property for them. God can provide for them and make them rich without our help, as indeed He does daily. But he has given and entrusted children to us with the command that we train and govern them according to His will; otherwise God would have no need of father and mother. Therefore let everybody know that it is his chief duty, on pain of losing divine grace, to bring up his children in the fear and knowledge of God, and if they are gifted to give them opportunity to learn and study so that they may be of service wherever they are needed.” (4th Commandment, Large Catechism)
CATECHESIS NOTES FOR THE WEEK—The Table of Duties Concerning Wives and Husbands--The passages of Holy Scripture in the Table of Duties concern the offices we have been given as Christians where our faith in Christ is lived out in this world. There is often great confusion about these two holy offices. Husbands are the head of their wives, but their headship is one of sacrificial love, teaching the Word of God, and forgiving sin. They are to be considerate of their wives who are placed in an office that requires them to submit to their husbands. Husbands are not to lord their authority over their wives. This is always a temptation for any Christian husband. Wives are to understand that their office of submission is patterned after Christ’s bride the Church. They are to expect their husbands to love them, teach them, and forgive them. Their beauty is not in outward adornment, but in the reception of their husband's love. “This is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands...” It is a beautiful and blessed thing when husbands love their wives as Christ loved the Church and when wives receive that love and trust in it.—Excerpted from Lutheran Catechesis
CATECHESIS NOTES FOR THE WEEK—To Husbands--Chief among the offices that God has established in the creation of man are the offices of husband and wife. A husband is a man, joined in love to his wife in marriage, who cares for her and “cultivates” life with her in the procreation of children. When the Apostle Peter directs, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers,” he is reminding husbands that their wives have been given an office by God that places them in a subordinate position to them. It would be very easy for the husband, corrupted by the sinful flesh as he is, to take advantage of his headship and the wife’s position of subordination to him. He is to “be considerate” of the position that God gave her and be husband to her in selfless love. Although they are not both in the same office, they are, nevertheless, equal “heirs of the gracious gift of life” in Christ Jesus. If he does not believe that, then his prayers, which include the ministration of his office as a husband, will be “hindered.” The essential disposition of the husband to the wife is contained in the passage from Colossians: “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” Here the husband’s office is depicted as the office of Christ who cares for His bride the Church, as it is also in Ephesians 5:22-33. Christ loves His bride by laying down His life for her and by covering her sins with His blood. He is never harsh with her who is “bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh, but nourishes and cares for her as His own body.” The office of husband finds its identity in Christ, the Church’s Bridegroom.—Excerpted from Lutheran Catechesis, p.376
CATECHESIS NOTES FOR THE WEEK—Of Citizens--This section of the Table of Duties teaches us that citizens are not only to honor the civil government, but they are also to participate fully in the society. Christians, governed by the Word of God, their faith in Christ, and their understanding of the distinction between the two kingdoms, are encouraged to participate in civic discourse, run for public office, serve in the military, and volunteer in the community. Their faith in Christ manifests itself in acts of charity and mercy for the temporal support of their neighbors in need. In addition to paying taxes and obeying the laws of the land, Christians are called to pray for their rulers, participate in the general welfare of the nation, and “to be ready to do whatever is good.”—Excerpted from Lutheran Catechesis, p. 374
CATECHESIS NOTES FOR THE WEEK—Of Civil Government--We are reminded of the important role of the civil government in the secular kingdom every time we confess in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate. The phrase “under Pointius Pilate” means “under God” because the governing authorities have been instituted by God. God works His will through them, even when they be evil. This requires faith in the Lord who promises to work His will, even though we may not understand why or how He will do it. Jesus submitted Himself to the governing authorities in His Passion. Although these authorities were evil and unbelieving, God accomplished His will through the administration of their office. Though Pilate did not believe in Christ, he nevertheless spoke on God’s behalf when he declared Jesus to be the innocent King of the Jews, and when he sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion. Our salvation was won for us when the Son submitted Himself to the judgment of the Roman governor in the secular kingdom. Every time we confess that Jesus was “crucified under Pontius Pilate,” we should be reminded and strengthened by this to live faithfully under the civil authorities.
CATECHESIS NOTES FOR THE WEEK— The Table of Duties: Faith Active in Love--“The Table of Duties teaches the baptized ‘how to live where God has called them in the freedom of the forgiveness of sins, with faith in Christ and love to the neighbor.’ The Table of Duties answers the questions: ‘Where do I live out my faith in Christ? How do I live my faith in Christ as a Christian in this world?’ The life of faith in Christ is lived in love toward others in our vocation: ‘Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker?’ (Confession). The Table of Duties addresses itself to these questions and the subject of ‘office’ or ‘vocation.’ An ‘office’ is authority extended to a person from God to function in this world in a particular way and for a particular purpose. Through this office he reflects Christ—the image of God—and His love to his neighbor. A Christian’s ‘vocation’ is the place or office to which God has called him to live out his faith in Christ. A Christian lives in his vocation or office by grace alone, and not by his own strength. His vocation is the calling to joyfully serve his neighbor in love, even as Christ laid down his life for him upon the cross. The strength to live faithfully in our vocations comes from the Gospel and sacraments of Christ, through which our faith in the forgiveness of sins is strengthened and the fruit of loving service toward others is born.” (Excerpted from Lutheran Catechesis, p. 9).
Luther's Small Catechism
Click the button below to download a copy of the Enchiridion of Luther's Small Catechism: