Sunday 2 September
Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Deuteronomy 4.1-2, 6-8
Psalm 14
James 1.17-18, 21-22, 27
Mark 7.1-8, 14-15, 22-23

Today’s readings can make us feel quite uncomfortable in our contemporary culture. The idea of laws as quite unchangeable seems to deny any sense of development of understanding, the idea of a God as being without any sense of alteration or change seems to challenge any idea of intercessory prayer, and then the Gospel seems to abandon any need to follow tradition or custom. It would be very easy to pick short phrases from any of these readings and end up with quite contradictory teachings on Christian belief. That is always the danger when we come to Scripture expecting to have our own view point (prejudices) confirmed. That is why, of course, if we wish to be faithful to the word, we are always invited to read Scripture in a wide context and with the insights of the tradition, and to allow it to challenge us. Whilst my faith might be something very personal and individual, the faith is something I should always approach with humility – it is not something I own or can invent – it is always received, and needs to be received with ‘wisdom and understanding’. Moses calls on the people to follow God’s law because that will give them life. James insists that his hearers are to accept and submit to the word that is planted so that they may ‘save their souls’. Jesus called the people to himself that they might ‘listen and understand’. There is no substitute for careful reflection and pondering if we are to enable the word to enter and transform our lives – this is not about point scoring or confirming our intellectual position – this is about allowing the word to give us life.

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Breaking the Word - Sundays

In the constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the Fathers of Vatican II decreed that: ‘The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly so that a richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s word’. (SC.52) The lavish feast of Sacred Scripture at the celebration of the Eucharist is designed to nourish and inspire the faithful. The following reflections on the Sunday readings for the next two months are an attempt to help readers and listeners to both savour and  ponder the selected passages so as to be drawn ever closer to the source of that nourishment. The author is a parish priest in Dorset and Vicar General of the Diocese of Plymouth.

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