God proposes ideas to us all the time. I don't know about you, but I'm often dubious of them. “Nah,” I say to myself, “I'm not going to stop and talk to that beggar on the street.” “Hmm, I don't know if I agree with that,” I think mentally as I read a theological book. (Note the variety of ways in which God can "speak" to us.)
“But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment...everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5: 21, 28). Here is a saying from our Lord, taken from this Sunday's Gospel, and my initial reaction is to question. Nemo cogitationis poenam patitur is a maxim I recall from my canon law classes. It means no one suffers punishment on account of his thoughts. Is not Christ's legal interpretation therefore fallacious?
That's when I hear St. Paul talk to me, speaking the same words he wrote to the Corinthians from our second reading: "We speak a wisdom to those who are mature, not a wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away. Rather, we speak God's wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory, and which none of the rulers of this age knew" (1 Cor 2:6-10).
St. Paul tells us to trust in God's wisdom, which goes deeper than our own. If my inclination is to question Christ's legal interpretation, what I hear Paul telling me to do is to be humble and realize Jesus knows what he is talking about. He came to fulfill the law.
Now, we actually can make sense of the wisdom from the Lord's legal saying; the message is not totally mysterious and hidden. What Jesus, I think, is telling us is that goodness is determined by more than one's external state. Just because you don't commit the physical act of murder, for example, does not mean you are necessarily a good person. Your soul and your mind are the true judge of your character.
Fair enough. But what I take away from this Sunday's message is Paul's call to trust God. I'm sure we all have moments of skepticism. Our inclination is to doubt what we hear and rely on our own knowledge or intuition. Sometimes we may be right. But when it comes to something of a religious or spiritual nature, perhaps we can lay aside our own opinion, at least at first, and trust in God's and his Church's recommendation. We will never be let down if we do.
I will be preaching the homily at all the Masses this weekend about the Cardinal's Annual Catholic Appeal. I will also preach at all the Masses next weekend, as we conduct the in-pew pledge. Please know your contribution to the Archdiocese of Chicago is a contribution to one of the greatest charitable organizations not just in the city, but in the country and world. The majority of funds raised by the Archdiocese through the ACA go to support parishes and schools serving poor communities. Other funds go to those challenged areas in the world to help fight disease and poverty, as well as respond to major emergencies. The Archdiocese does so much more and I would encourage you to be generous as you have been in the past. Thank you!
Congratulations are in order for a successful SOUPer Bowl Drive. Thank you to all who both donated and helped collect, and especially to the members of our St. Vincent De Paul Society, led by Fred Ludwig. They collected almost 1,000 cans of soup, as well as almost $1000 in cash donations, which went to three needy families. We also had a very successful Sock Drive led by the Boy Scouts and SVDP. Thank you, Scouts, for collecting socks in the back of church!
Mrs. Katrina McDermott, our school principal, will not be returning for the upcoming academic year. While Katrina has enjoyed serving as principal for the past four years, she has decided to seek a career with less administrative demands that will allow her the opportunity to spend more time with her family and pursue more of her other passions – teaching, curriculum and data. We are sorry to see Katrina depart, but are grateful for all she has achieved for our fine school. We have put together a search committee for our next principal and I am confident we will build on the progress we have made and take our school to the next level of excellence. You can read the full text of my letter, which went out to families last Tuesday, here. Please pray for our school and our new principal. God will provide!
Yours in Christ,