Pondering Mk 7:1-9

“You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.”

The word of God is continually being “nullified” in our daily life. We call Jesus our teacher; yet we cling to the words of “elders” in preference to the message of Scriptures.  It seems right and just to follow the lessons taught by people we respect in parental roles, or those considered “learned”. It is tradition handed down through the ages.  It’s misuse was shown by the Pharisees.  

In early times, when questioning was rude and slavish obedience was associated with the Commandments, it was natural to think that the parents knew best. It seemed natural then to accept the words of authority. In an age where we feel all grown-up and rebellious toward all things traditional, there remains a tendency to take “celebrities’  words at face value. Despite the obvious burden of  negativity, there remained the overriding compulsion to adopt new and “unorthodox” pronouncements slavishly – ingrained lies the habit of accepting the words of “experts”. A new tradition spawns to enslave the vulnerab

Jesus took on the form of a slave to invite humans into the “Kingdom of God”. He offered to heal humanity of its many diseases, and to liberate it from all forms of slavery and the shackles of soulless traditions. In our pride and stiffness of heart, we turn divine covenants into man-made  burdens, hard to bear: devoid of inner grace. Divinely inspired “Commandments” splintered into hundreds of “laws” that only few understood. Knowledge became a powerful tool, and the servants became masters – each good custom corrupted the world. In Jesus’ presence the disciples did not fear the consequences of breaking the human traditions regarding purifications, fasting and like observances. In his life and teachings  Jesus testified that the Lord does not take pleasure in hollow sacrifices and trivial tinkering with outward acts of celebrations. The Word of God is love; it is the commandment above all other commandments. Acts of piety and purification must be centred around the love for God and neighbour. Failing in that, worship is an empty act that nullifies the Word and stunts spiritual growth.

Lectio Divina: Mark 6:14-29

Pope Francis ( may God bless you papa), stirs up the imagination. Some see in him John the Baptist; some St Francis of Assisi; some as one of the prophets. We can see him as an apostle for the Twenty-first century. His apostolic ascent marks a distinctive change, from the old to a new; a draining of old wine turned sour, and its replacement by new wine in a new flask.  With introspection, in many areas there is a new awareness of what discipleship means. The ocean is filled with souls, in a rich diversity, craving salvation through Christ. Groups under empirical modernism, secularism, LGBT rights, harsh fundamentalism, cyclic poverty, marginalised minorities, find themselves isolated and captives of their consciences. His leadership of the “Mission”, has been remarkable – the poor and the widows have found a voice and a home; shackles made of fake consciences are falling before the light of recovered Mercy.
His teaching is more attuned to modern demands for satisfaction based on logical thinking. While he encourages traditional forms of devotion, he also urges us to think like adults. People find it challenging when he asks us to question the way we pray the Lord’s Prayer. He is really asking the faithful is to understand and pray in a meaningful way when they recite even formulated prayers. When Jesus says we are to adopt a child-like attitude to faith he was not demanding childish blind faith. As we grow older, he calls us to think like grownups and to act as grownups. In his parables he wants us to be filled with wonder at God’s creative force, just like children. And, to understand, with a mature attitude, the great mystery of the kingdom of God.
Each effort at reform is challenged by negativity. People quote scriptures and tradition to protect their tenuously held positions of power and patronage. Like Herod, Antipas, they are willing offer a sacrifice on a silver platter to please the power of Mammon.
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We Are Thus or Thus

Grace the golden orb 

Beams into primeval flame, 

That shoots

Coded desires

To the rounded mask

(Teeming with ideas 

High aspirations 

And multitudes of emotions).

 

The darts, selectively coupling

with fraternal correlatives, 

Slip to the darker side. 

At measured pace

The orb rotates

Capturing to itself a myriad marriages. 

At appointed point

There’s a stop and stillness; 

Obverse stands nakedly, 

In bright rays 

Illuminated,

A meshwork 

of Cause and Affects. 

 

Transformed by appetites

For gold, frankincense and myrrh,

The orb dull-drifts to recesses of darkness;

But is saved by the unions transcendental

That counter pull to warmth of the primordial Source-

Directed  by its own discernments, 

Attractions

Selections

Volitions, 

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When Things Are Thus or Thus

Well might one ask, “What need’s truth? We already  have the truths we need; precisely put down, with proofs and principles, by prominent people. No more need for blind faith. With  practical application  and a measure of human ingenuity, we could construct fulcrums and would lift the world. No more fantasies about the man in the moon: now it’s only a body of craters and dunes waiting for someone to stomp on. What need of an invisible deity? We, on our own, are able to travel to Mars – even colonise distant galaxies!” It has been a long journey for the species to reach this assured consciousness. It has been so long, that we forget where we began; and the myriad stages in between. At so many stages we thought that we had reached the zenith of our creativity and achievements – but there has always been room for more progress. 

When we can make and do so many things, we also have the intellectual ability to decide what is good for us: what is right and what is wrong. We do not need axioms brought down from mountains, the entrails of caves, or churned up from the depths of the oceans. For a most of the time, elders believed and practised what they were told. There were  obvious exceptions, and at times very subtle changes, to designed for convenience.  Generations have decided their own parameters of social behaviour, each setting aside the “morality” of the predecessor. With the stroke of a pen years of tradition and ideologies have been relegated to the dustbin of the history. Like a new suit, morality has been consonant with the fashion of the day. Within living memory we have seen radical changes in social behaviour. Arguably, these changes have made us better, more sensitive, and more enlightened than ever before.

Do these attributes and attainments make us better than sheep or goats; two-legged things that strut and fret; drop off, and then just disappear? I think not. For then, roses and green fields would be only fodder. I think not, for  then empathy and sharing in another’s joys and sufferings would be no more than expressions of our gregariousness. Then, all sublime expressions would be just dabbling and babbling  in indolence. To me, these and other noble expressions of humanity, are connects with a transcendent state that’s the sum-total of human consciousness; the essence of all beauty and the perfect form of all perfection. Therefore, I can say, “I believe in the One I belong to – my model and all that I aspire to be.”     

 

The Quality of Mercy is not Strained

Let me take courage from Pope Francis, and plunge into the torrent of self-righteousness, and swim against the current. 

Bishop Wilson, of Adelaide, stands a lonely figure, abandoned by brother bishops, priests and christians alike. A court has found him vicariously guilty of a crime that has been a blight on the twentieth century and the Church. In sentencing him, the court, while punishing the crime, also, provides healing balm and to the victims. But, the justice system also offers the right of appeal. Which, as a citizen he has chosen to avail of. Are we, as fellow Australians, willing to deny him that right? Do our protests verge on sabotaging due process? In this situation, were he to resign from his post, he would only weaken his case.

May I counsel patience and faith in our justice system to let the case run its course. At the end of it we may judge the bishop, and the moral and social implications of his errors and judgements. Till then let us play the peacemakers.

On Choosing Life

“Look to the prism”, he said “The pendulum, dangling over the window, capturing the sun’s rays and dispersing light all over the room. Each smooth surface casts its own refracted ray to tell some story and adding colour to the walls.” 

 I looked to  the colours on one side, the profusion of colour evoking strong images of heroes, princes and successful individuals that did once bestride the world stage. Limited only by their imagination and the strength of their endeavour, some created empires, some magnificent cities, while some built magnificent pleasure domes – grandeur  that captivated the world in wonder. Their stature was measured by the wealth in their vaults and the level of ostentation. Yet, when done, their time of pomp and pleasure slipped and passed away. For instance, one died of a common fever in a distant land. Another was felled by swords that once made him great, and could even have made him emperor. One passed his last days, in near blindness, his eyes turned towards the world’s most magnificent building that he had constructed. Recently, one who would be Fuhrer,  died underground in a hole, of self-inflicted injuries. The list is legion. Like commoners, they too were reduced to pinches of sand as they slipped through the maker’s hourglass, down on to an anonymous heap. They had chosen to be great.  

The opposite wall I found is bathed with lighter hues of blue – tranquility marks the mood. The protagonists are more at peace with their surrounds. The lion sleeps with the lamb. Man and woman move unhindered by outward trappings, fashions or ornamentation. Every plant, unblemished, yields proper fruit at the proper season. The streams are full of fish, and meander, irrigating rich fields on their way down to a sun-filled sea. Sounds of animals and birds fill the air with sweet harmony; not a discordant note, no cacophony. This is life as it was meant to be.

Again I hear the voice. It asks, “ What will you choose, splendour and power for the day, or do you choose life that gives joy for ever? I say to you choose Life. But the choice must be yours, for the Father so wills it.”