Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (a)

Todays readings are about rules and the Gospel reading for this Sunday is the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount. Just as Moses climbed Mount Sinai to receive the sacred Law from God, the disciples climbed the Mountain of the Beatitudes to receive the New Law from Jesus. And just as the people of Moses’ day were told to keep the Law always before them, Jesus tells his disciples to build their lives on His Law.

However there is a great difference between the Old Law of Moses and the New Law of Christ. Mosaic Law presented detailed instructions for the people for living their lives. Jesus’ Law went to the heart. The Sermon on the Mount began with the Beatitudes, those eight brief statements on true happiness. These were followed with the theme of living sincerely: let you external actions reflect your internal attitudes. So, if we are full of love, we are not seeking to answer hatred with hatred. We are called to extend this love to our enemies, pray for them, and even turn our cheek to the person who slaps us. We are told that our prayer life should not be a show for others but an expression of our deep love for God. We are told to pray for our daily bread and to place our trust in God. Our interior union with God must determine our every action. The New Law is not a numeration of rules; it is an exposition of the basic Christian attitude.

Now any person, child or adult, who is only concerned with obeying rules or living by the book will never grow up to Christian maturity. The Sermon on the Mount calls us to be mature Christians. If someone needs help, we need to reach out and help. We don’t need a particular rule to tell us that if elderly Mr. Jones is sick we should check up on him to be sure he has what he needs. We don’t need rules specifying which situations demand our compassion. We don’t need rules to tell us what reflects a Christian lifestyle and what reflects a pagan lifestyle. The Christian way of life is written in our hearts. We need to love our God with our whole heart, mind and soul and love our neighbor as ourselves.

The basic Christian attitude in life is the rock that we need to construct our lives upon. Any other attitude in life, such as taking care of number one, living for the moment, etc, are houses built on sand. Even if we were to do great things in the name of the Lord, if we do them for our own selfish needs, such as for recognition by others, our actions would be hypocritical. This is what Jesus is referring to in today’s Gospel when he said Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?

The determination to live our lives true to our Christian identity is the rock on which we construct the building of our lives. You know, through faith people are like the wood and stones collected in the forests and on the mountains for building; then through Baptism, catechesis, and preaching they are rough-shaped, squared, and polished; but they become houses of the Lord only when they are put together with love. When believers are interconnected in accordance with a specific order, mutually close and cohesive, when they are joined by love, they truly become a dwelling of God that is in no danger of collapsing[1].

The mission of our parish is and should be to nurture the spiritual growth of its parishioners, by inspiring them to become faith-filled Catholics –apostles– who spread the good news of Christ, creating a bilingual and bicultural community. To fulfill this mission as a Pastor of this community I have two goals: 1. To nurture the spiritual growth of the Parish through a reverent celebration of the Eucharist, the liturgy that has been at the center of the life Catholic communities since the beginning of the Church, and 2. To fulfill the sacramental, spiritual, and physical needs of the people of God through our various ministries.

Help me, I beg you, to build our community upon a solid Rock, upon our Lord. Remembering that the Christian way of life is written in our hearts

[1] Cfr St. Augustine, Serm. 336.
Ilustration: Lorenzo Monaco, Moses1408-10, Tempera on panel, 63 x 45 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris