Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
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. (Mk 7:6b-7; cf. Is 29:13)
“Be doers of the word and not hearers only…” (Jas 1:22a) The Word of God is Divine. The Word is given to humanity by God. “…you shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it.” (Dt 4:2b)
When you aren’t anchored in the truth, you will drift. That’s what Jesus is pointing out. The truth isn’t out there like the X-Files program used to say. The truth is in your heart and soul. It was written there by God. (cf. Jer 31:33) God’s commandments are the truth. The truth will set you free. The truth is the person of Jesus Christ our Savior and Redeemer who fulfilled the commandments. There is a big difference between human precepts and Divine Doctrine, or what we also call Dogma. In our society, Dogma is not welcome. Dogma is seen in the world as a limitation to freedom. Some think if you follow Dogma, that it will limit freedom. Dogma is not an enemy of the common good. It is its very foundation.
When Supreme Court Judge, Amy Coney Barrett, appeared before the Senate judiciary committee for her confirmation hearings, Senator Feinstein of California said, “I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the Dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.”
Why was Senator Feinstein so concerned? It seemed that her opinion was you can be a Catholic, provided you don’t allow the teachings of the Church to guide and influence your life. Did Feinstein think that if you follow your Catholic Faith, then you are a danger to society?
What about Jesus? Did the Dogma live loudly in Him? What did Jesus do wrong? He lived humbly in the world. When He was accused and tried, they would not believe the Truth who stood there in front of them. What is truth? Pilate asked Him. (Jn 18:38) Jesus was judged to be a danger to society, but He is our Salvation. The Truth will be the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Eternal Truth does not change, yet our restless hearts are always looking for that change that will finally make us happy. There is an organic connection between our spiritual life and the dogmas. dogmas are lights along the path of faith: they illuminate it and make it secure. If our life is upright, our intellect and heart will be open to welcome the light shed by the dogmas of faith. (CCC 89) In those in whom the Dogma lives, the change desired most is conversion. Conversion of ourselves and the world. That change is discipleship. That is the change to end all change, and that change of heart leads to eternal life. Washing hands and cleansing the soul are two entirely different things. Pontius Pilate and the Pharisees thought that all you had to do is wash your hands to wash your guilt away. All the empty pompous piety in the world cannot make up for the lack of even one small act of charity. “Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.” (Mk 9:41) A little love goes a long way.
“You have been told, O mortal, what is good,
and what the LORD requires of you:
Only to do justice and to love goodness,
and to walk humbly with your God.” (Mi 6:8)