for Sunday, August 30, 2015
The readings today form us in how to listen to God's word and how to respond to it. It is important for us to realize that God speaks to us in Holy Scripture but that we are not fundamentalists. Rather, we must understand the whole Bible as one book and each of the books within the Bible must be interpreted in light of all of the other books. Thus we must be careful never to take a teaching out of context but must listen to the whole Bible.
The first reading today, from the book of Deuteronomy, tells us about Moses instructing our ancestors in the faith. They are commanded to keep the commandments, neither adding to them nor subtracting from them. This is also how we revere all of Scripture, our Bible. We do not add new books to it, as many would like to in our time, nor do we subtract books from it, as has been done in the past. Rather we receive the Bible as inspired as a whole work and we read it in light of the complete Bible rather than one little bit at a time.
The Gospel from Mark today tells us about the traditions of the elders and how they came to conflict with the Scriptures. We Catholics should be very aware of the same types of situations. There are teachings in our Church which are disciplines and not divine teachings. That is normal in any institution. The Church is a Divine entity but also a human institution. We are much more aware of this in our day because of the scandals of sexual abuse. We must be cautious not to think that because of sexual abuse, then every aspect of the Church is simply a human construct. This is what many would have us believe today.
If the Church is simply a human construct, then there is no Jesus Christ who is the Son of God and there is no sense in belonging to any Church.
The second reading today gives us a clear summary: Be doers of the word and not hearers only. You and I must continue to read Scripture, always listening to it in the light of all of Scripture and in the light of the early teachers of Christianity and in light of the teachings of the Church. We are not meant simply to hear this word of the Lord and then think that it no longer applies to us. Rather, we meditate the Word in order to let the Word possess us and guide us in our actions. This open, positive, trusting reading of the Word is very different from some kind of academic critique of the Word in such a way that the Word becomes meaningless.
Instead of disregarding God's commandment and clinging to human traditions and teachings, we are called to be transformed into the very life of Jesus Himself. Come, Holy Spirit, enlighten us.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Deuteronomy 4.1-2, 6-8
Second Reading: James 1.17-18, 21-22, 27
Gospel: Mark 7.1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: