Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Religion and Spirituality

Tuesday: 22 January, 2013 –– 2nd Week in Ordinary Time
Mark 2:23–28
Religion and Spirituality

Critics say “religion” stifles spirituality. It’s almost become a cliche to hear, “I’m spiritual, but not religious.” People use “feelings” of spirituality to tear down the boundaries of religion. Are these the only two options?

Some see Jesus as a champion of spirituality over religion; this story of gathering and eating the grain on the Sabbath is one of the imagined justifications. Yet, as the story concludes, Jesus is affirming a true meaning of the Sabbath –– a “religious” boundary. The Hebrews letter says that Jesus is a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.  That sounds religious!

Religion without spirituality is lifeless, but spirituality without religion is not properly grounded; it dissolves into personal opinion and sentimentality. The Incarnation of Jesus Christ anchors a healthy spirituality in a sustainable religion. God gives us religion to guide spirituality, and spirituality to enliven religion. We need both.

Jesus knows and quotes Scripture, and engages in ritual worship. Scripture or ritual itself is not the issue. We are given the Apostolic Faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3) to keep us in a healthy balance. Neither "religion" nor our own opinions of spirituality should obstruct God's life in us!

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