Friday of the 5th week in Ordinary Time
Memorial of Saint Scholastica, Virgin
February 10, 2017
Dear Lord, grant me the grace to be obedient to Your Word so that I may be the instrument of evangelization that You desire. Amen.
In today's first reading, we see a classic illustration of a fault that we all have: hearing what we think we should hear, filtering out what we actually heard, and putting our words (or someone else's words) into God's mouth.
The serpent asked: "Did God really tell you not to eat from any tree in the garden?" No, that's not what he said, but did the woman catch this twisting of the truth? Listen to her answer: "God said all trees were okay except one." This part is true, but then she put words into God's mouth: "You shall not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil or even touch it." God had said nothing about touching it (see Genesis 2:16-17).
Eve started to sin when she acted as if she could be "like a god", by adding to God's words. We do that, too, whenever we jump to conclusions by supposing that we know more than we actually do.
This original sin is repeated today when we make up our own minds about the teachings (i.e., the "Deposit of Faith") that the Church Magisterium has protected from error throughout the centuries. To justify the decision to disobey a Church teaching, we put words into God's mouth: "If your conscience says it's okay, then it's okay."
For example, many Catholics don't trust the Church's teaching about using natural methods to responsibly determine the timing and frequency of conceiving children. I can testify that the Natural Family Planning method recommended by the Church is trustworthy unless the woman has a health issue that interferes with it, and when that happens, the Church does offer other options. Contrary to a common misunderstanding, the Church does not promote huge families; what the Church promotes is the value of family.
Consider any Church teaching that's controversial. Remove the temporal (earthly, temporary) human desires from the debate, then research it humbly, asking the Holy Spirit to help you understand what the Church is really trying to teach about love underneath whatever sounds wrong in it.
Although Church rules that deal with cultural problems are changeable and do evolve over time, we sin if we live by our own rules when it comes to moral (divine, eternal) laws, putting our words and personal preferences into God's mouth.
Let us ask Jesus to do for us what he did in today's Gospel passage. He wants to heal our imperfect hearing so that we can listen to the truth more accurately. Jesus is saying to us: "Ephphatha!" (that is, "Be opened!").
Eve didn't like being told that there was something she was not allowed to do. She did not understand (and she did not ask for understanding) why God would forbid anything. She chose not to trust that God had a good reason for his rules nor that his law benefited her. We are given the same choice. Will you trust what God is saying through his Church?
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