If you have any exposure at all to social or news media, you cannot escape the relentless public discourse about sin — even if the “s” word isn’t used. Behaviors that used to be whispered about in private, especially if committed by public figures, are now analyzed, condemned, applauded and endlessly commented upon for all to see. Following scandals through the news cycle has become a popular pastime.
I’ve known Mack since he was 11 years old — that’s 44 years. He grew up in a faithful, practicing Catholic family, much younger than his four older brothers and sisters. He was a young teenager when things started unraveling at home, largely due to alcoholism in the family.
Sunday, Aug. 30
Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8
James 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Q. The pope will soon be visiting the United States and will speak about the treatment of the poor. Before his visit, many millions of dollars will probably be spent to pretty up the churches in three cities, as well as the surrounding areas.
Some time ago, the same thing happened in San Antonio. Whole neighborhoods were cleaned up just for the pope to drive through them. Could not this money be better spent for direct help to the poor and the homeless?
We all desire to be free and to truly live our lives as we are meant to live them. We can try to achieve this in different ways. We can see that the Scots tried to achieve political freedom through fighting a war against the English. Moses tells Israel to observe the Lord’s statutes and decrees “that [they] may live and may enter in and take possession of the land” that God gives them. But more than land and space to live, the first reading for Aug. 30 shows us that God and his law bring true freedom.
In the readings this weekend, we arrive at a very pivotal moment in the great bread of life discourse. Until now, Jesus has only required belief in him as the one sent by the father, a belief difficult enough in itself. He has done many things to merit our belief, like feeding the 5,000 and walking on water. But in the Scripture for Aug. 16, he challenges us to put our belief into action in a very unpalatable way: to eat his body and drink his blood.
Q. I read about the saints and how extraordinary they were. Some of them did really hard things like only getting a few hours of sleep and doing other painful things. I guess not all of them did outstanding things, but I feel like in order to become a saint I have to do something like not sleep for days or do penance all of the time. How can I be holy?
Living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, it’s easy to place our confidence in a well-stocked pantry, or ultimately, a healthy bank account. It is easy to place our confidence in the things we have, rather than in God, who has given them to us.