6 September 2012
[Psalm Of David] Yahweh, who can find a home in your tent, who can dwell on your holy mountain?
Lord, who shall dwell on your holy mountain?
He who walks without fault;
he who acts with justice
and speaks the truth from his heart.
He who does no wrong to his brother,
who casts no slur on his neighbour,
who holds the godless in disdain,
but honours those who fear the Lord.
He who keeps his pledge, come what may;
who takes no interest on a loan
and accepts no bribes against the innocent.
Such a man will stand firm for ever.
Extracted from the holy Gospel according to Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23
The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered round Jesus, and they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with unclean hands, that is, without washing them.
For the Pharisees, and the Jews in general, follow the tradition of the elders and never eat without washing their arms as far as the elbow; and on returning from the market place they never eat without first sprinkling themselves.
There are also many other observances which have been handed down to them concerning the washing of cups and pots and bronze dishes.
So these Pharisees and scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands?’
He answered, ‘It was of you hypocrites that Isaiah so rightly prophesied in this passage of scripture:
This people honours me only with lip-service,
while their hearts are far from me.
The worship they offer me is worthless,
the doctrines they teach are only human regulations.
You put aside the commandment of God to cling to human traditions.’
He called the people to him again and said, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that goes into a man from outside can make him unclean; it is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean. For it is from within, from men’s hearts, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a man unclean.’
Readings for the Sunday 2 September 2012:
1st Reading: Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8, see Encouragements-84;
Psalm 14:2-5, see above;
2nd Reading: James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27, see Encouragements-61;
Gospel Reading: Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23, see above.
A wise and elderly Priest gave the sermon after the Readings and we have summarized to share with you:
This Priest encouraged all of us to study the Word of God in the Bible and put them into practice, highlighting the words of Saint Paul to Timothy:
“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, see Encouragements 96).
He also told us that “any Christian who has decided to follow Christ would need to follow all the Laws / Commandments as prescribed by God, one should not do so like doing marketing at the supermarkets, where one picks and chooses the Laws that he likes to follow and casting away the rest.”
This wise Priest told us that we should not be overly concerned about the formalities of the Law like the Pharisees, who perform all their religious obligations without love, and were condemned by Jesus. But we should adopt the purposive approach in understanding the spirit of the Law and put them into practice.
The Laws as prescribed by God are not complicated and they were instituted for our well-being. The whole Law of God is summarized by the words of Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40 (see Encouragements-29):
'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself.
On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets too.'
This wise Priest highlighted the words of Saint James:
“As a body without a spirit is dead, so is faith without deeds.”
(James 2:26, See Encouragements-54.)
He went further to highlight that all good works done must be coming from a “loving heart” and his words reinforced what Saint Paul had taught us:
“Though I command languages both human and angelic - if I speak without love, I am no more than a gong booming or a cymbal clashing.
And though I have the power of prophecy, to penetrate all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains -if I am without love, I am nothing.
Though I should give away to the poor all that I possess, and even give up my body to be burned - if I am without love, it will do me no good whatever.”
(1 Corinthians 13:1-3, see Encouragements-78.)
The Priest continued and highlighted the parable of Jesus concerning His coming again, when He would separate the sheep (the good men) from the goats (the evil men), and He would say to the sheep:
“Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take as your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome,
lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me."
"In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me." (Matthew 25:34-36,40, see Encouragements-78.)
This wise Priest reminded all of us to recognise each other as “brothers and sisters”, as it is the same Jesus that lives in each of us as we receive Him in Holy Mass.
The words of the Priest reminded us what Saint John, the Evangelist had taught us:
“My dear people, since God has loved us so much, we too should love one another. No one has even seen God; but as long as we love one another God will live in us and his love will be complete in us.
We can know that we are living in him and he is living in us because he lets us share his Spirit.”
(1 John 4:12-13, see Encouragements-19.)
Extracted from the 1st letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 2:10-16
The Spirit reaches the depths of everything, even the depths of God.
After all, the depths of a man can only be known by his own spirit, not by any other man, and in the same way the depths of God can only be known by the Spirit of God.
Now instead of the spirit of the world, we have received the Spirit that comes from God, to teach us to understand the gifts that he has given us.
Therefore we teach, not in the way in which philosophy is taught, but in the way that the Spirit teaches us: we teach spiritual things spiritually.
An unspiritual person is one who does not accept anything of the Spirit of God: he sees it all as nonsense; it is beyond his understanding because it can only be understood by means of the Spirit.
A spiritual man, on the other hand, is able to judge the value of everything, and his own value is not to be judged by other men.
As scripture says: Who can know the mind of the Lord, so who can teach him? But we are those who have the mind of Christ.
6 September 2012