Saturday, September 1, 2012

Seeing and Observing

22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
September 2, 2012

Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 6-8
James 1:17-18
Mark 7:1-8; 14-15; 21-23

The three readings present a pathway to God that , unfortunately, is more frequently overlooked or misunderstood in our world today.  For centuries these particular readings have lain hidden from an understanding that offers a great treasure.  Imagine the almost countless sermons, reflections and homilies that have seemingly missed sentiments that could make the life of a faithful Christian so much stronger and rewarding.  Hidden in these three readings is the effort of the authors to teach what Moses and Jesus consider what faith truly is.  Faith is a powerhouse of energy that enables true believers to give expression by actions to what it is that we profess as our belief.  One unnamed writer has put this idea forward in a simple, to the point, sentence: "Faith is a verb." This writer for Grace Works publications has discovered what he considers to be a reality that is at "the very core of the Bible."

A prayerful reading of any part of the Bible as well as taking the time to make certain that any doubtful words are looked up in a good dictionary will teach "action over thinking."  Those who have preached and taught over the last several centuries thar hinking, discussing and pondering about God will make all of us models of genuine Christianity.  Popes, Bishops and priests, in our roles as teachers of the faith have more often than not focused on thinking as the "open Sesame" to understand our faith.   Faith become an object to be studied.  For most Christians -- we Catholics are Christians --faith is the file drawer of the many tenets of our belief.

The Bible is more than a collection of theologies for Christian Studies.  What we have overlooked so often is truly a treasury that is simple, far from complex.  In the readings for this Sunday the inspiration of the Holy Spirit must not be mistaken or overlooked.

In the Book of Deuteronomy -- a closing presentation from the great leader of the Jewish nomads -- the writer recalls words from Moses:  Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe ...."  Most readers or hearers interpret the verb "observe" to mean "to see, to ponder, to watch."  Yet, how few are there who first consider the word to signify another action, "to observe."  In paying taxes, for example, you and I "observe" a federal regulation.  Or, you might say that you observe our birthday.  Moses was preaching this to the Jews with him something more important than simply knowing the "commandments of the Lord."  Moses was, rather, teaching this message: "... keep the commandments I have entrusted to you....  Live these commandments of God."

St Mark was well-aware of the root of Moses' commands "to observe" meaning "to live" the commandments given from God.  In Jesus' words, "From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts ...."  Nothing from outside can defile."  Jesus, to be sure, was quite clear:  taking into our hearts the words of God, and simply observing them through rituals of faith to the letter pales in comparison to living out the faith we profess.