Immersed in Christ: February 18, 2020
Father David's Reflection for Tuesday of Week Six (Ordinary Time)
Happy the people you teach, O Lord.
(Responsorial: Psalm 94)
James 1:12-18: James makes three points: 1. God tempts no one. “Rather, it is the tug and lure of our own passion that tempts every one of us.” 2. If we “hold out to the end” against trials and temptations, we will “receive the crown of life the Lord has promised to those who love him.” 3. God “wills to bring us to birth with a word spoken in truth.” In other words, the power to “hold out” comes from God, not us. And it comes through his word. Again we have the identification of Light and Life.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... In him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.... But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.
This is a call to discipleship. But to keep the call from being just a “voice crying in the wilderness,” lost in space, we have to bring the call down to earth by answering it in time and space. In our own time and space. When will we “devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers”? If we want Christ’s word to give us life, when, concretely, will we read it? And where? What place is most conducive to reflective reading and prayer? Is it available? Every day? At what time of day? For how long? 1
Unless we commit ourselves to a when and a where, in time and space, we are simply kidding ourselves if we think we have accepted Christ’s call to be his disciples. So do it. Now. Yeah!
Why? Because everything in Scripture tells us this is the choice between Life and death.2
In Mark 8:14-21 we see what Jesus had to cope with. His disciples were not over-bright. They often did not understand what he was talking about.
By the “yeast of the Pharisees” Jesus means the Pharisees’ “evil influence that can spread like an infection.” The Gospel identifies it with their “teaching” and their “hypocrisy.” The Pharisees wanted to teach without learning; they were closed to everything Jesus said that went beyond their narrow understanding of the Law. They were hypocrites who pretended to listen to him but were in reality only “spies who pretended to be honest, in order to trap him by what he said, so as to hand him over to the authority of the governor.” 3
Every preacher and teacher who goes beyond the teaching people learned in grade school and the rigid legalism of the unexamined rules they were told to obey under pain of eternal damnation encounters the “leaven” of the Pharisee party in the Church today. These are the “doctrinal and liturgical police” whose lack of higher education is matched only by their unwillingness to learn. They listen only to denounce. Let disciples “beware of the yeast of the Pharisees.”
Initiative: Ask yourself if you really want to learn from Jesus? Prove it.
1 John 1:1-14; Matthew 3:3; Acts 2:42.
2 See Deuteronomy 30:10-20; Psalms 56:10-13; all of Psalm 119; Proverbs 13:13-14; John 5:24; Acts 13:46-49.
3 The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, 1990; Matthew 16:12; Luke 12:1; 20:20.