It's the Spirit that's Fundamental

Dear Parishioners,

The Law of Moses from the Old Testament, as I've mentioned before, consisted of over 600 laws.  Those who practiced every law down to the last detail were few.  They were the urban elite.  Some of the laws dealt with ritual washing.  Farmers in the countryside simply could not do this.  Water was too scarce and precious.  Some of the laws dealt with coming in contact with dead objects.  Again, this was unavoidable for the working class. Fishermen, for example, often pulled out dead fish from their nets.  And there are many other cases of the futility of the law.

Lest the majority of people be in constant legal violation, the Hebrews created what they called "the Little Tradition." This was an adaptation of the laws of Moses.  The essence of the important laws were observed. 

But not for the Pharisees.  They followed everything, and judged those who did not.  And Jesus calls them out for it.  "Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites..."(Mk 7:6).

So, our Lord calls everyone together to teach them a lesson.  I love this scene.  Mark writes, "He summoned the crowd again and said to them..." I can imagine Jesus being a like a math teacher who has seen her students make the same mistake again and again and so she stops class and goes back to the original lesson.  Or a football coach who sees something discouraging, so he calls timeout, huddles up the team, and reiterates some fundamentals.

The fundamental for Jesus is that it is the spirit and not the letter of the law that truly matters.  The law is meant to make us holy, loving individuals.  Someone can follow every law and still be unloving and impatient.  That type of individual is not justified. 

I am not saying the laws and exact prescripts are unimportant; that they can be disregarded at will.  Remember, I am a canon lawyer.  Laws have a purpose.  The purpose is to help bring about the salvation of our souls (see the last canon in the Code of Canon Law).  If we follow the law and live charitably, then, as the psalm says, we "will live in the presence of the Lord" (Ps 15:1).

School is in full swing! Wednesday, September 5th is back-to-school night at 7pm, starting in the gym.  On Thursday there is a pep rally and Saturday is the opening game for the St. Juliana football team.  Go Trojans!  Speaking of football, I will again celebrate Mass this Sunday, September 2nd at 8am for the Notre Dame football program.  It's great to be with the teams and particularly to see some of our alumni.

I wanted to give another shout-out to lifelong parishioners, Tom and Marie Dombai, who are beginning the third year of the program for Tom to be ordained a permanent deacon.  I also want to recognize another parishioner, Anastasia Jakubow, who is beginning her second year of the Lay Ecclesial Ministry Formation program for the Archdiocese of Chicago.  This three-year program prepares men and women to serve parishes of the Archdiocese as Directors of programs in the areas of pastoral, catechetical, and youth ministry.  Those accepted into the Lay Ecclesial Ministry program receive a tuition scholarship that pays 2/3 of their tuition towards a graduate degree.  Please remember Tom, Marie and Anastasia in your prayers as they continue their programs.

The Knights of Columbus have their business meeting on Wednesday at 7pm at St. John Brebeuf.  Congrats to Grand Knight Steve Baggio (St. Juliana parishioner) and the Knights for their successful pig roast a few weeks ago. 

Happy Labor Day.  I hope you all enjoy your long weekend.  We will have one Mass on Monday, at 8:30am in the church.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. James

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