C. S. Lewis once wrote that the most emphatic noise is the one you are trying not to listen to. The TV is on very loud next to my room, dogs are barking across the lane and you expect me to write something profound? If the program were a ball game and the dog was mine it would not be noisy, but just delightful sounds accompanying my spirits.
The more important noises are those already bouncing around the insides of us all. We are invited to listen to and acknowledge those bangings and clanging. We actually can pray with not only the noises, but what is the origin of them. When we are at peace deep-downly, sounds are less of an annoyance.
As we live from one Eucharist to the next, we will hear noises and perhaps they are invitations to receive the truths and falsehoods which those barkings promote and reveal.
The fourth verse of the chapter from which our First Reading is taken for today’s liturgy is a bit of a proverb. All life, the father’s and the son’s belong to God. If one sins that person must die. The next verses contain a list of sins reflective of the Ten Commandments. Briefly, sin will lead to death and righteousness, which is refraining from the sins listed, will lead to life.
It is within this context that our verses are set. God assumes, through the words of the prophet, that the people of Israel will think God is not fair in the question about who lives and who dies. The prophet lays it out pretty clearly on behalf of God. It had been thought that if the father sins, then the son must die too. That question has been answered as well in the previous verses.
What is important is that a life of sin and inequity can be reversed and life will follow. A virtuous life can also be reversed and death follows. This is God’s being fair and the prophet is speaking to the people of Israel who want to have it both ways, sin and life together. God says in these verses, “not while I’m God!”
The Gospel is a parable directly aimed at the scribes and Pharisees. There is a previous discussion with the Pharisees on Jesus’ authority and what is its source. Jesus will ask them a question before answering theirs.
In the sacrament of marriage two human beings vow publicly to be perfect in loving, honoring, and being faithful in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, all the days of their lives. Now that is a big “Yes!”. Everyone attending that public ceremony knows each of the newly covenanted couple is going to violate that promise rather soon. So is that empty-promising again and their marriage is dissolved as a sacrament? Are they hypocrites and their marriage is a pretense?
Jesus is the Divine “yes!” to our human “we’ll-see”, or “kind-ofs”. It is the relationship to which Jesus has said and does say “Yes!” that allows us to keep trying to live with our inconsistencies. Actions do speak loudly and words are whispers of hope. We will eventually do what we know ourselves to be. Jesus continues to come to give us ourselves so that we can give Him to others. We say “No!” to self-condemnation by saying “yes!” in our reception of the Eucharist. What Jesus did in His life was perfect, what we do in ours is try and live peacefully with the difference.
“O Lord, remember the word you spoke to me, your servant, which made me live in hope and consoled me when I was downcast.” Ps. 119, 49-50
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