Monday, September 10, 2012

Good is Always Good and Wrong is Always Wrong

Monday: 10 September, 2012 –– 23rd Week in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 5:1–8 / Psalm 5 / Luke 6:6–11
Good is Always Good and Wrong is Always Wrong

There is a profound tension when one compares today’s Gospel with the Epistle and Psalm. The Gospel gives a Jesus story that matches most of the stereotypes of Jesus: love, mercy, doing good, confronting and rebuking entrenched religious authority.... On the other hand, the Psalm is full of the language popularly associated with the Old Testament: God hating evildoers, destroying liars, abhorring the bloodthirsty and deceitful.... One might think this justifies the common belief that “the God of the Old Testament” is vastly different from “the Jesus of the New Testament.” Such an idea is totally at odds with Christian Faith, and any approach to Scripture which assumes this is getting off on the wrong foot. The same “tone” of today’s Psalm is found in the Epistle: Paul is abhorrent that the Corinthian congregation is tolerating open immorality. He pronounces judgment even though he is not even present and tells the Corinthians the one who did this deed should be expelled from your midst. He warns that even a little yeast [sin] leavens all the dough. If you want to know what God thinks of sin, look at Jesus on the cross.

Each of these texts deserves full exposition. An extended elaboration of how such biblical passages interface goes beyond the scope of a daily homily. Still, there are two simple and basic applications we can take from today’s readings.  First: good is always good and wrong is always wrong. But if we stop there, we are left with an unresolvable quandary. How are we to decide what is good and what is wrong? Loud and strident voices surround us with this very issue in focus.

We cannot answer this question on our own. To answer by how we each “feel” results in the mess we are in today. Likewise, to try to answer by popular opinion is merely to surrender to whatever “feelings” happen to be in the majority in any given time and place.

Catholic Christians believe God has spoken and modeled Truth through Jesus Christ, and that an accurate (and thus authoritative) account and interpretation of Jesus has been handed down and preserved by the Church. How else can we know Jesus except by the Church?!

So the second application from an attempt to integrate today’s readings is simply this: trust the Church. Listen to what the Church says is good and what the Church says is wrong. It’s the only way we can truly know Jesus. It’s the only way we can know that good is always good and wrong is always wrong.


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