Monday, September 11, 2006

Monday word

23d Monday B (11 Sep 2006) 1Co 5. 1-8; Ps 5; Lk 6. 6-11
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Greater Than Ritual

In today’s gospel religious professionals oppose Jesus. Some of the Pharisees sought to protect torah--God’s intention for the world from its creation to the liberation and formation of God’s people, Israel--by demanding equal observance of everything in it: They held that everything obliged equally and seriously, which is why they emphasized ritual purity.

Of course things do not oblige equally. Say I promised to meet you. Say, too, that in driving to meet you I am fortunate enough to pass an accident before it shuts down traffic. Am I not obliged first to get help even if it may prevent me from meeting you at the promised time? It’s a good thing to keep my promise to you; driving to meet you it is better I get help even at the risk of being late, “timely impure.”

The point of Luke’s conflict stories is that Jesus was clear that moral actions stand above ritual, no matter how important it may be.

Yet, the Pharisees would have none of it. They sought charges to bring down Jesus, and his response to their efforts left them beside themselves in anger: they would take matters into their own hands if necessary.

Luke prepares us early in his gospel for the trial and demise of Jesus, the complete rejection of God’s prophet. But Luke also prepares for how God in Jesus will lead the New Israel by those who accept Jesus and his vocation as Paschal-sacrifical-Lamb. We’ll hear his choice tomorrow.

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