Sunday, September 2, 2012

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”

The Opposite of Faith is not Heresy. 
But Indifference.- Elie Wiesel

(Gospel Text: Mk 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23)
When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem
gathered around Jesus,
they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals
with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.
--For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews,
do not eat without carefully washing their hands,
keeping the tradition of the elders.
And on coming from the marketplace
they do not eat without purifying themselves.
And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed,
the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds. --
So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him,
"Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders
but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?"
He responded,
"Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:
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.
You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition."

He summoned the crowd again and said to them,
"Hear me, all of you, and understand.
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
but the things that come out from within are what defile.

"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."

Words, words, words!

We live in a very verbal world. Televisions, radios, iPods, tablet computers, newspapers, billboards, books, magazines they are all ready to saturate our minds and stimulate our interests. But so much comes at us that it goes in one ear and right out the other.

If our judgment is spiritually acute, this can be a good protection against ungodly influences. But we also run the risk of closing our ears to the most important word of all, the word of God. Without even realizing it, we may end up treating Scripture as we do other words: tuning it out, shielding ourselves from its challenge, not feeling any need to apply it to our lives.

So what can we do to make sure that we become “doers” of God’s word?

One of the best answers is the ancient practice of lectio divina, or “sacred reading.” Its basic steps are simple. First, read a passage of Scripture slowly and carefully (lectio). Use your Bible’s footnotes or a trusted commentary if you need help. Next, reflect quietly on the meaning of the passage (meditatio). Let the words sink deeply into your mind. Next, in prayer, talk with God about the passage (oratio). “Lord, how does this verse apply to my own life?”

Lectio divina doesn’t end here. The goal of lectio is to bring you in touch with the Lord, not just to read and understand his word. So the next two steps are crucial. First, in the silence of your heart, simply rest in God’s presence, contemplating the goodness he has shown you in his word (contemplatio). And then, as a fruit of your prayer and reading, decide how you will respond to what God has shown you (operatio).

How will you live out the word that has come alive?

Jesus tells us: “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (Luke 11:28). May this word—the word of life—find a place in all our hearts!

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