Saturday, July 29, 2017

Get a fresh look at some old rules.

July 28, 2017

Friday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 399

EX 20:1-17

PS 19:8, 9, 10, 11

MT 13:18-23

In the desert, God gave this nomadic tribe of warriors ten simple commandments to live by.  We have spent thousands of years unpacking that decade of seemingly elementary rules.   The Israelites themselves began to understand their significance to daily life as they grew from a simple warring tribe into a great nation.  They took it seriously that they were to be God’s people and that their lives should reflect that to the world around them.   What began as shall not kill, began to be digested into how that applied to revenge, livestock, and accidental death.  God never changes, nor does His commandments, but our understanding of the great mystery of who He is and what His law means to us is still developing and will continue to do so as long as man exists.

The funny thing about that parable in the new testament, one that we’ve been seeing frequently at Daily Mass and Weekends for some weeks now, is that every time we see it, it still speaks to us freshly.  Unpacking just the meaning of the sower and the seed, and then digesting it in reference to today’s society and culture, requires looking at it freshly time and again.  While we are different every day, every year, we still have much in common with that primitive early tribe of warriors.   We still have those who respond with gusto and fall away.   Those who turn the law into some kind of rigid system that does not allow love.  Then there are those who are open to God’s prompting in their hearts, and they let those simple commandments blossom into an amazing plant, the Church.

Humanities understanding of who we are has grown a great deal over the centuries.  As Catholics, we separate the two commandments of “coveting your neighbor's goods” and “coveting your neighbor’s wife.”   Why?   We realize that no human is a possession.  A wife is a person, with her own free will, her own desires, and passions.  There is still much to work on.  While the deposit of faith is complete, divine revelation has been fulfilled in Christ Jesus and He is the key to understanding the mystery of who God is.  We are still working on human dignity, from conception to natural death.   It is a constant struggle to obtain equal rights for all people.  There are prejudices ingrained in us so deeply that many of us don’t even know that they are there until we stumble upon them.  So we cling to what we know, and we build upon it.  Never contradicting it or changing it, but realizing that it is in the inner self that change truly begins.

The interesting thing about spiritual gifts is that in order to keep them we must let them grow.  We must share them in a world so in need of love that it is hurting.   We can’t keep all of it bottled up inside.  We honor God, we put Him first in all things, and that puts life in perspective.  Someone the other day said, “I know your anti-exercise….”  No, I am not anti-exercise.   I am all for exercise and healthy eating.  What I am, is anti-putting-anything-before-God-in-my-life.  That means exercise, eating right, watching television, listening to the station, even just sitting on the couch vegging out requires that it be for the right reasons.  We need to rest, God even kept that in his commandments.  We need to be healthy, or we can’t serve our families or churches.  What I need in my life, to keep in the forefront of my mind, is that my spiritual health is more important than all of those.  It’s not either or though. All of those are still important!  They shouldn’t replace our faith though, but supplement it and nourish it so that it can help me grow into that person God has created me to be.