September 2, 2012
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
“This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.”
Jesus is the Perfect Teacher who inspires us to pass on the Catholic Christian faith. Fathers James, John and I are excited about starting another school year at theCatholicEducationCenter, which houses both ourHolyCrossCatholicSchooland Religious Education Program. Jesus is at the heart of both of these institutions.
Fr. James and I, along with our Principal Lisa Reichelt and our part time Director of Religious Education Kathy Chlan (pronounced “kline”) were able to meet with our school teachers and some of our catechists to offer our thanks and encouragement as we prepare for another great year of passing on the faith. This time of orientation for our teachers, catechists and ourselves, gave us an opportunity to get to know one another and share our faith in Jesus, as well as their desire to pass on this faith to our students.
All of us are looking forward to collaborating with the parents of our students in order to grow in our Catholic faith, the fullness of faith, which includes hope and love. Divine faith, hope and love are the three theological virtues that we receive at our Baptism and of which we need to nurture and maintain until our death in order to be received into heaven.
I think most Christians are aware of God’s infinite love for them and how their faith is a gift from God, the Father of lights, “with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change,” of whom we hear about in today’s second reading from the Letter of St. James. I think most Christians believe the following statement from the same sacred letter: “Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.” This is God’s sanctifying grace that makes our soul open to God.
The divine word was “planted” in us. This is such a beautiful beginning of our faith, when our parents in collaboration with the priest, or deacon or even bishop, said “Yes” for us at our Baptism when indeed, through the power of Jesus as head of his Church, the minister of Baptism planted these three spiritual seeds within our soul: divine faith, hope and love.
However, this is only the beginning. St. James goes on to explain that we need to live out this word of faith; that it must mature along with the person in order to be the source of salvation. St. James is inspired to write: “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
In today’s Gospel according to St. Mark, we read how Jesus had preached: “You disregard God’s commandments but cling to human tradition….Hear me, all of you…From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”
This list of objectively mortal sins “defiles” a person, and without true repentance a person in this state of sin would not be admitted into heaven. But what about “deceit”, does that mean any lie is a mortal sin that kills God’s sanctifying grace within us? No, unless it is a lie with regard to serious matter which would put a person in physical or spiritual danger. What about the sin of “arrogance”( which means arrogating to oneself authority one does not have)?
Unfortunately, there have been a few renegade priests, ministers and lay people who disregard Jesus’ teachings on some serious moral matters, and although they might not commit the sin, they give their approval for others to do so. They will be forever “defiled” unless they repent and let Jesus and his Church be recognized as the authority of salvation.
God is the ultimate author of the Word of God, the correct translation of the Bible, and Jesus is his Perfect Teacher who inspires us to stay close to his word of divine faith, hope and love found substantially in his Catholic Church.
Peace, Fr. Thomas McCabe