Friday, July 15, 2016

“I bet you’ve seen the fundamentalist bumper sticker that says, “God said it! I believe it! That settles it!” It must be a typo because what the driver really means is, “I said it! God believes it! That settles it!”

Gospel Text: (MT 12:1-8)
Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath.
His disciples were hungry
and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them.
When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him,
“See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath.”
He said to the them, “Have you not read what David did
when he and his companions were hungry,
how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering,
which neither he nor his companions
but only the priests could lawfully eat?
Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath
the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath
and are innocent?
I say to you, something greater than the temple is here.
If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
you would not have condemned these innocent men.
For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.”

The “something greater than the temple” of which Jesus speaks today is, of course, Jesus Himself. As the Old Testament priests served in the Temple, so the disciples of Jesus serve in His Presence. It is in serving Him, and especially in offering priestly sacrifice through Him, that the meaning of all Christian works find their meaning, and are rightly ordered.

Here the virtue of prudence shows its place. Prudence is sometimes called the “charioteer of the virtues”. A modern analogy would be to see prudence as the steering wheel. Prudence is neither the engine (which could be correlated with divine charity) nor the gearshift (temperance) nor the GPS (hope). Nonetheless, as simple as the role of the steering wheel is, the whole motorcraft depends essentially upon it. Likewise with prudence.

The most basic level of moral decision-making is to shun evil and to do good. Prudence is hardly needed at this level. But the upper echelons of morality depend greatly on prudence, where the moral agent faces many good choices, and is tasked with choosing the best. If we realize that Christ—that “something greater”—is always with us, then His Presence will guide our prudent choices.

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