Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today’s first reading from Deuteronomy is about Moses speaking firmly to the people of Israel. He says, “You shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it.” In other words, Moses wants the people to remain obedient to the precision of his message. Moses goes on to say that observance of these commands will not only leave them with intelligence and wisdom but that these gifts will attract other nations. Isn’t that our purpose: to draw closer to our God and in so doing, provide an example for others to draw closer to God as well. One of the Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous states that their public relations policy is “based on attraction rather than promotion.” Attraction is a powerful tool.
In my spiritual journey, I have been blessed with the example of many holy women and men. Their example created a curiosity in me that caused me to explore the wonders of spirituality and God and to go deeper with each truth I found. I saw something in these individuals, and I wanted to know more about it. Attraction, along with the Holy Spirit, guided my steps and drew me closer to my God. I also learned through experience to listen more to others’ actions than to their words.
In the second reading today from James, he notes that every good and perfect gift comes from above. He goes on to say, “humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you… Be doers of the word and not hearers only…” James ends by urging his readers, “to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself untouched by the world.” Throughout these readings, I heard a message calling the reader to action. First, to obedience to the Teacher, and then to action. Do what is necessary to gain possession of the message, and then once owned, give it away. To truly internalize a spiritual truth we sometimes will have to go through the fires of transformation and refinement – that which is necessary, but once gained, it is imperative that we give it away.
Finally, today’s Gospel taken from Mark, speaks of the boundaries of tradition. Following tradition is all well and good, but it is not the same as following Jesus. There is a place for all things and tradition has its place. If tradition conflicts with God’s commandment then we have lost our way. Let us not forget that they will know us by our fruit and our fruit comes from what we have within. As Mark states, that which defiles does not come from without. It comes from within. In summary, let us pray for each other that we may listen, obey, allow our transformation and refinement, take possession of that which is true and good and perfect, and then with courage and confidence transform the world through our actions.
Peggy Roach, Associate