Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8; Ps 15:2-5; James 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
The last four weeks we have been reflecting on Jesus’ real presence in the consecrated Bread, Wine from St. John’s gospel. Now we make a dramatic shift to the concept of law, so we need help. ‘‘Come, Holy Spirit, please give us your wisdom and understanding.”
Our basic concept of God is that he is the one who created everything that exists on our little planet, earth. He also created everything else that exists. Added to that is the fact that he is the force that keeps all things together with his divine power. As he did this he obviously had a plan for everything including us. You might call that his plan or his divine law. Those who follow his plan can expect some degree of harmony and joy. Yet our scriptures and experience tell us that we are not in a utopia or harmonious place.
The right balance of laws
We can have a good or bad experience of law. It depends on how we were raised by our parents, the neighborhood where we were raised and if we were poor or more well-to-do. Life without law can be chaotic and unmanageable. Life with too many laws is repressive and dehumanizing. We need the right balance of laws. A simple example is getting a drivers license. Is there something that we have to learn and agree to do if we are granted a license to drive a vehicle? Do you expect me to drive on the wrong side of the road or drive through your yard and into you front door destroying a lot of things inside your house? No. There is an order or law to guide public safety. A good principle is: "Do to others what you would want them to do to you."
Today’s reading from Deuteronomy speaks about God blessing his chosen people with an order to their lives. Other nations would see the specialness of these people and want to be a part of their order. They could see people helping other people. Psalm 15 speaks about justice, thinking about God’s plan and putting it into action.
True religious worship is simply explained in St. James’ letter as loving God humbly and helping those who are in need around you. In other words putting into practice in our daily lives what we believe. Not just going to Mass on Sunday for 45 minutes and forgetting about it the rest of the week.
Major and minor laws
In this section of Mark 7, Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for making their simple human laws or guidelines equal with God’s major directives. Jesus simplified the 10 Commandments given to Moses into two major laws: Love God with your whole heart, mind, soul and strength and your neighbor as you love yourself. Jesus speaks about cleanliness laws as not equal to divine laws. We should wash our hands before eating or using a lot of sanitizer in a hospital. We should wash our dishes, silverware and the pots and pans we cook with or we shall get sick. There are many other such things that are common sense health practices.
So let us prioritize the things that we need to do in proper order and balance, remembering the greater law of love. This will help us live a more productive (fruitful, in the biblical sense) and joyful lives.
Have a blessed week full of peace and all good.
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2015 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR