Dear Friend of Carmel Mission,
Often in our Lectionary the first reading from the Hebrew Scriptures helps prepare us to better understand the Gospel reading. This is particularly true of today’s readings. Jesus Himself would be have been completely and intimately familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures. Indeed, as Jesus states in the Gospel today, He was the manifestation of the promise of the prophets and the fulfillment of God’s law.
In our first reading from the Book of Sirach we hear that we can choose to follow God’s law, and, if we do, we will be saved. “If you trust in God, you too shall live.” (Sirach 15:15) When we apply this idea to the Gospel reading, we can see how Jesus is trying to impress on His followers, sometimes with startling hyperbole, that God’s laws are designed to help God’s children live in righteousness and peace. But more is required than rote adherence to a set of strictures, as the Pharisees would have us believe. The law is meant to guide our hearts to a more just, compassionate understanding of what it means to be human, to live in community, and to love and serve one another. Using this same Law to shame, exclude, or bludgeon one another is a profound perversion of its, and thus God’s, intent.
I am reminded of the moment in Mark’s Gospel when Jesus tells His disciples, “Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” (Mark 7:14). From the beginning of creation it has been our human tendency to blame an outside influence for our actions. Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the snake – but had their hearts been pure and their trust in God complete, no snake or devil could have enticed them. Jesus’ exposition on God’s law focuses us back on what is within our minds and hearts. We are encouraged to go beyond simply following commandments to examine our motivations and inclinations and align them to God’s will to help bring about God’s beautiful, just, and peaceful Kingdom.
I wish you and your love ones blessings for good health, new hope, and true discernment of God’s law,
Please take a moment to read our Carmel Mission Weekly Bulletin.