The Bishops Homily – 22nd Sunday Ordinary Time 2018

22nd Sunday Ordinary Time
Cycle B | 02/09/18
Dtr. 4: 1-2; 6-8
Jas. 1: 17-18; 21-22; 27.
Mk. 7: 1-8; 14-15; 21-23

INTRODUCTION: All our readings this Sunday are about Laws. The topic is appropriate these days in the Philippines and in the Church. Our Country is proposing to change the Constitution, the Basic Law of the Land, to change our form of Government to Federalism. We hear so many interpretations of the law.

The Catholic Church is bedeviled by the controversy on its cover-up by Church Authority of the sexual abuses of Clerics and Religious, including bishops and cardinals. Also here we hear so many sides interpreting confidentiality of the seal of confession. How are we to be guided on these issues from God’s word we hear today?

(1) In our first reading from Deuteronomy, God through Moses tells his people: “Now, Israel, hear the Statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe. Observe them carefully for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations.” What we hold as important we surround with laws in order to protect what we hold as good. So if life is a value to us, we protect it by laws that enhance it by regulating hours of work or conditions in the work place or by laws prohibiting its destruction at any of its stage.

So also in the spiritual and moral order, if we value chastity, we surround it with proper boundaries so that the person does not feel being violated. In countries where sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults have been committed by family members or by clerics and/or Religious, it becomes normal to ask parents and guardians, are your children safe in your homes? Are our sacristans, even our catechists and parish secretaries safe in the Church?

(2) St. James in the second reading tells us Christians, “Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.” James tells us Christians need not look at the rule book all the time because laws are not extrinsic to us but become part of our life. Practice makes perfect! Constant exercise of virtue makes virtue a kind of second nature to us.

Never accept the logic of “anything goes in life” but sadly that is the logic in contemporary culture. Rather accept the logic of law not imposed from above, though law comes from above, but as coming from within. Write the law not in tablet of stone but in your heart.

(3) In the Gospel of Mark, we find Jesus witnessing to the shadow and negativity of the law — a kind of fussiness of the law, legalism that confuses the essential for the periphery. He calls that hypocrisy!

In our Country now there is a lot of legalism that makes war look good in spite of so many killings of victims to various addictions and dysfunctions that could have been reformed if given a chance but these killings may not be called extrajudicial or you become an enemy of the State.

Our Church too is being confronted with many sinful issues of corruption, sexual molestation of the young, abuse of authority to vulnerable people in the Church and cover-up but she does not deny or tell a lie and is ready to reform herself and come out of this crisis learning from her lesson of the past. How I wish our Country can draw its model of self preservation and renewal.

CONCLUSION: My Dear People of God, will you leave Jesus because of a few Judases in the World? Will you leave your Church, the Bride of Jesus, because of some wrinkles in her face?

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches