Readings: Malachi:1:14-2:2,8-10, Psalm 130,1Thessalonuans 2:7-9,13, Matthew 23:1-12
As always, scripture seems to know what is going on in our lives. The first part of the Synod is over, and, suitably, the demand made on us by today’s readings is that we are to be people of integrity. The priests, and religious leaders generally, are held accountable, but no-one is exempt from listening to God, glorifying his name, and, unlike the scribes and Pharisees, practising what we preach.
This challenge is set in so many beautiful reminders of God’s goodness and love for us, for all. “Have we not all one Father?” We are “weaned children”. St Paul , who can sound severe, compares his attitude to the followers of Christ as that of a mother, feeding and looking after her own children. The Good News was never to be a burden, and the Thessalonians are complimented for recognising this, and accepting it as God’s message, a living power.
St Matthew is quite blunt: the message of Christ can be distorted by the leaders, looking for notice, lording it over people and adding to the normal difficulties of life, instead of presenting the real Christ, who set us an example by being humble, by being the servant of all. Perhaps clericalism is not new!
Some of the themes addressed in the pre-synod retreat by our brother Timothy Radcliffe echo the substance of today’s readings. Truth, authority, relationships, conversation. “Why, then, do we break faith with one another, profaning the covenant of our ancestors?” “…you accepted it for what it really is, God’s message and not some human thinking; and it is still a living power among you who believe it.”
As for what else is going on in our lives these days, the final words of the first reading again remind us of the tragedy of what is happening in Christ’s own country. “Did not one God create us?”
In another few weeks we begin to prepare once again for the coming of Christ at Christmas. Whether we are in northern hemisphere or in the southern, we are being reminded of life and death, the looking back, the looking forward, the darkness, the light.
“Be near us, Lord,
Be our integrity”. (Paul Murray, O.P.)
Lucina Montague, OP