The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Homily: Wednesday 9th Week of Ordinary Time

Scripture and the Power of God (Wednesday, June 5)

Readings: Tb 3:1-11a, 16-17a  • Psalm 25 • Mk 12:18-27

Today’s Gospel reading includes the verse that actually led me to want to study Sacred Scripture more deeply. It was about 40 years ago, and I recall hearing this passage read one morning at daily Mass. When I heard Jesus say: “Are you not misled because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?” [Mk 12;24] I was truly surprised.

It was then I realized I was really no better than the Sadducees. I, too, didn't know the Scriptures as I should. Yes, Jesus told them flat-out that they were wrong. And after explaining why, in case they hadn’t understood Him, He told them once again they were wrong.

He didn’t mince words, did He? It would seem Jesus was more concerned with the truth than He was about preserving the Sadducees’ self-esteem. Setting an example for the Church, He didn’t hesitate to speak magisterially, to teach the truth, and to do so with authority. As many who heard him "were astonished at his teaching because He spoke with authority" [Lk 4:32

Well, this dialog between Jesus and the Sadducees made an impression on the younger me. I realized that I, too, really didn’t understand the Bible. Neither did I grasp the origin of the Church’s teachings in so many areas. And so began my life-long journey with Sacred Scripture. And I’m still being surprised by what I encounter.

Ironically, a surprise struck yesterday when I focused on the entirety of that verse. Listen again…“Are you not misled because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?” [Mk 12:24]

I’d never really gotten past Jesus’s reference to “the Scriptures.” I’d never really thought very much about His reference to the “power of God.” And yet that reference is so central to what Jesus was teaching the Sadducees.

The Sadducees not only didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead; they believed in no afterlife. They didn’t believe in angels. They believed only in what they read in the Torah, the first five books of Scripture. Only the Torah was inspired.

Of course, Jesus goes right to the second of those books, the Book of Exodus, and shows them how life after death, the resurrection of the dead, is confirmed by the Word of God to Moses.

The Sadducees hadn’t recognized this, because they were very smart people, among the most educated of those first-century Jews; and so like many of today’s very smart people, they rejected the truth of the Resurrection because…well, because people simply don’t rise from the dead.

I suppose they’re right…people don’t rise from the dead. They don’t rise from the dead without God’s help; and that’s what Jesus was telling them.

You Sadducees have forgotten about the power of God. Do you really think God would create you in a wonderful act of personal love, and reveal Himself to you, and provide you with guidance and protection…do you really believe He’d do all this and then let you rot in a grave?

No, He loves you more than this. You have forgotten about the infinite power of your Creator.

Sometimes we forget as well. Sometimes we fall into despair because we don’t accept the power of God in our lives, the very power that brought each of us into being.

God’s power is working constantly throughout the world and in each of our lives. Take a moment today to thank God for that power.

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