Ours will only then be a truly spiritual nation when we shall show more truth than gold, greater fearlessness than pomp of power and wealth, greater charity than love of self… Let us seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and the irrevocable promise is that everything will be added unto us. These are real economics. May you and I treasure them and enforce them in our life!
You can find the readings for the 8th Sunday in ordinary time here.
In homilies across the world today there will be the predominant message to avoid falling in the trap of worshiping wealth over God. A good scripture scholar will tell you that while mammon does indeed mean money or wealth the word “lord” can be anything or anyone. With that in mind we will talk about fears. We can’t serve God with a divided heart. If we were to rephrase the scripture to understand that today in the Catholic Church we serve fear and God we have a solid message on this Sunday. You cannot serve God and fear.
To illustrate the how fear impacts our relationship to God I have a question from Carla: “Does the problem of withholding more revealing scholarship to congregants lie primarily with the seminaries, the graduates of the seminaries, or both?.”
Carla’s question comes from the premise that those in the “know” are purposely withholding information from which folks in the pews on Sunday could glean some benefit. Carla believes that contemporary knowledge of theology and scripture is not disseminating to the masses and somebody has made a conscious decision to withhold this information. The facts actually lie in the Gospel message for today. When my fears outweigh the teachings of Jesus I can no longer serve God. Instead of hoarding money or wealth our fears cause us to hoard our religious convictions. By serving your religious convictions you cannot grow in faith and hear God’s message. Withholding information is no longer a conscious decision but rather an unconscious decision.
Most people wrap their security needs inside their religious convictions. When the truth that is claimed in our religious convictions is questioned, the anxiety that was born in the moment of our achieving human self-consciousness takes over.
– John Shelby Spong
There is a popular commercial on television where a housewife takes a blind taste test of spaghetti sauces and discovers that she prefers a brand that she does not currently buy. Now the loyalty to her existing brand is in question. In her mind she asks the question “I wonder how many other questionable choices I have made in the past” and there is a humorous flashback to some embarrassing trendy clothing choices she made in the past. While it is funny to think about this regarding spaghetti sauce it is much harder to accept regarding our religious convictions. Today we have two topics that affect some religious convictions.
I will talk first about Biblical authorship. In the Old Testament we learned that there were four different authors identified for the book of Genesis, but in the New Testament who actually wrote the Pauline epistles? The Westar Institute tells us that “the Apostle Paul certainly wrote some of the letters attributed to him, but some letters are almost universally rejected: 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, for example.” When we read from the Lectionary at Mass (from the letter of St. Paul to Timothy) Paul did not write certain letters but rather somebody pretending to be Paul. Does this information matter to you. Does it make you wonder what other contemporary knowledge is available but not discussed on Sunday?
Next we will discuss a Catholic sacred cow; abortion. Would you march on Washington DC to attempt to change the laws on abortion and contraception? What about marching to change the laws on capital punishment? Both are issues related to Right to Life but abortion has religious conviction behind it. Has your anti-abortion stance become more important to you than God? Pope Francis has stated that “we cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible, The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.” Jesus warned us that we cannot serve two masters. If the words of the Pope made you concerned about changes in the Church your religious convictions may be standing in your way of serving God.
The way to deal with this deep-seated human fear is to help people to grow up to a new level of maturity, but normally religious institutions and religious hierarchical people tend to respond by trying to suppress truth that is religiously “uncomfortable” or “inconvenient.” The quest for security is ultimately not an emotional way of life that allows growth to take place.
– John Shelby Spong
If you take away one idea from this homily today it should be to question your religious conviction. Has your certainty about what is true turned into idolatry? If your convictions are questioned do you become angry at the person asking the question? Put nothing before serving God from this day forward.