Friday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time
The Responsorial Psalm promises the “great joy” which opens John’s letter, but with a condition attached: “Happy are they who follow the law of the Lord!” (Psalm 119). Both readings emphasize this condition.
2John, verses 4-9: In this short letter the word “truth appears five times, and “teaching” three times, with a plea to “abide” in it (because the mystery is that the truth “abides in us and will be with us forever”). “Love” appears twice joined to “truth” and twice as Christ’s “commandment.” Clearly, for John, to love God as we should we need to correctly understand and follow his commandments. For this, it is essential that we “abide” in the teaching that enables us to “walk in the path of truth.”
This is a relevant reminder today. Benedict XVI maintains that the greatest danger to faith in our time is a doctrinaire “relativism” that he defines as a “self-imposed limitation of reason to the empirically verifiable.” Anything that does not conform to the “canon of scientificity” – for example, all the “human sciences, such as history, psychology, sociology and philosophy” and a fortiori religion — is declared anathema and sent to the stake as unscientific. It is labeled “just opinion,” indemonstrable, uncertain. This is agnosticism.
There is a religious relativism, however, that is very common in our day. People join churches that make them “feel good” — or even “meet them where they’re at” with valid spiritual nourishment. But they don’t seem to ask whether these churches have maintained the authentic teaching of Jesus Christ passed down for two thousand years. If they feel a particular minister or congregation is giving them more on Sunday than their parish church is, they switch religions. For them, the truth —”doctrine” — is not important.
In the short term they may actually be getting more. But they are cut off from the wholeness of Christian revelation, and especially from the mystery of the Eucharistic sacrifice (that they may never have experienced at Mass, because of the level on which they were participating). Now they will never grow into it. Neither will their children. As unfaithful “stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1Peter 4:10) they threw away the truth that was handed down to them, entrusted to their care.
In Luke 17: 26-37 Jesus warns us to look ahead. We can get so caught up in the present, the superficial and transitory, that we forget what we are really living for. Stewardship is alert, responsible management of all the gifts God entrusted to us. Long term. “Happy are they who follow the law of the Lord!” — in its wholeness.
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward: look at the whole picture. Make it work for you.