Month: October 2012

Listening and Moral Discernment: Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Deuteronomy 6:2-6 Psalm 18 Hebrews 7:23-28 Mark 12:28b-34 Every field of academic inquiry has its favorite set of buzzords or common sayings that capture something essential about that particular field.  In Catholic moral theology, one often hears the phrase “See, Judge, Act” to describe the process of prudence or practical reasoning.  First, one gathers information about the context, then one forms a judgment in light of basic moral principles, and then one puts that judgment into a particular act or series of actions.  The phrase works because it accurately and simply encapsulates what can potentially be a very difficult process of moral discernment and action. In the readings from the book of Deuteronomy and the Gospel of Mark for this Sunday we hear the Shema repeated in each.  The title derives from the Hebrew word for “hear” or “listen.  It is the closest thing to a creed for Jews, and it too sums up the Jewish faith and experience in a few short phrases: Hear, O Israel!  The Lord is our God, the Lord alone!  Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  Similarly, when Jesus heals a deaf man with a speech impediment, he says to the man, “Be opened” (Mk 7:34), and he is then able to hear and speak properly.  Whenever I hear this miracle story, I am...

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The Beggar’s Cry- Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 31:7—9 Psalm 126 Hebrews 5:1—6 Mark 10:46—52 This Sunday’s lectionary readings are all about God hearing the cries of his creatures. In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah conveys God’s reply to his people in exile. The Lord urges them urges them to shout, exult and praise because of the deliverance promised to them. The remnant of Israel will return from “the land of the north,” from “the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst.” Though “they departed in tears,” they shall return “on a level road, so that none shall stumble. For I am a father to Israel…” The psalm then beautifully echoes this last line, proclaiming that “although they go forth weeping/ carrying the seed to be sown/ they shall come back rejoicing/ carrying their sheaves.” The reading from the Letter to the Hebrews then prepares us for the Gospel by portraying Jesus as the new high priest, chosen from among our race to be our eternal representative before God. The sacred author reminds us that this honor is not reflexive, but rather serves the glorification of the one who has accepted the sacrifice of this high priest whom he also calls “Son.” By the time we reach the Gospel reading, then, we should attuned to the significance and magnitude of the encounter which is about to be depicted. “As...

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