05 August 2014

Well-planted, or uprooted?

NB. Fr. John Dominic is off on a medical mission. Fr. Mike asked me to take the morning Masses this week.

NB 2.0: Didn't preach this homily at the 8.30am Mass b/c Deacon Lloyd was on duty. I'd forgotten that our deacons preach on Tues and Fri. Oh well. 

18th Week OT (T)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA

In revealing a truth of the faith, our Lord undermines a centuries-old religious tradition. At one point, the religious tradition he undermines, washing hands before eating, revealed a truth of the faith. But over time, the act became Its Own Thing. Handwashing before meals became an empty ritual, an almost-complusive, superstitious motion that obscured the truth it once revealed. When Jesus points out that uncleanliness is about what comes out of one's mouth rather than what goes in it, he dumps centuries of tradition and sets the nerves of friend and foe alike to buzzing. You don't have to be a scholar of the Law or a even a particularly religious soul to see the implications of Jesus' rough treatment of religious tradition: if handwashing is a pointless ritual, what other centuries-old traditions are pointless as well? To soothe the scrupulous and instruct the ignorant, our Lord says, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.” In other words, if God built it, willed it, wanted it. . .it – whatever It is – it will endure. And everything and anything planted by something or someone other than the Father. . .will be destroyed. 
So, the obvious question arises: are you planted by the Father? More specifically, is your faith planted in the Father's will? Or, is your faith planted in something or someone that will inevitably be uprooted? Something like financial security, or religious ritual? Or someone like a favorite politician, or a pastor or a celebrity or a pope? Jesus tells his disciples not to follow the Pharisees b/c when the blind lead the blind they all end up at the bottom of a pit. What makes the Pharisees blind? They are reasonably well-off. Educated. Religious. Politically connected. More popular with the crowds than the Sadducees. They are serious men seeking God's will. But they are blind. Their eyes cannot see b/c they will not to see. They will not see the truth that gives the Law its authority; the goodness that makes the Law holy; or the beauty that graces the Law with its allure. If the Pharisees are blind, then what about the pastors and the celebrities and the popes and anyone else we might be tempted to trust before we trust the Father? If they do not trust the Father, then they too are blind! Go to the Father first; trust Him; then, follow those whose faith manifests the good fruits of the Spirit.


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