Friday, the 15th week of Ordinary Time
Mass at noon: Tuesday - Friday - Saturday at 5:00 - Sunday at 9:00 and 11:15am
When the people gather for prayer, all are welcome.
Readings for today's Mass
Saint of the day - Lawrence of Brindisi
Almost everywhere there are laws governing human behavior. I want to believe that they were enacted in response to something that needed correcting. At least i hope they start out with good intentions. Having never been repealed, many such laws could still be enforced. Many we simply ignore or we don’t even know they are still on the books.
Similarly, the Law of Moses contains a lot of prohibitions that we readily dismiss today. You may be guilty of violating some of them. If you’ve ever had a bratwurst at our Welcome Back cookout, woe to you! Check the label on shirt, if it is made with any blended fabric, woe to you! And i would dare to say that none of us would survive our teenage years if parents enforced with more vigor the law found in Deut. 21:18-21! Big woe to you!
It was violating laws such as these that contributed to Jesus’ execution. They were ancient laws that bothered him because they no longer served the common good; no longer served to bring order into a society. Some of them had become unduly burdensome. Still the keepers of the law defended them fiercely.
Today’s gospel is an example. Jesus and the disciples were walking along a grain field. Apparently hungry, some of them picked heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands to break away the stems and chaff, blew away the debris and ate the grain kernels. The Pharisees had a conniption! It wasn’t that what they were doing was wrong or sinful. After all, they were hungry. The matter was they were working with their hands - and it’s the Sabbath!
In today's gospel, the Jesus-of-common-sense appeals to the behavior of the great ancestor David who did the sensible thing at a time when he was hungry, even though it was against the law and therefore sinful.
Now, before i go any further, note well that i am not going to suggest in any way that it is a good thing to violate the laws. Laws serve a good purpose. But when some laws no longer serve the common good, they may need to be challenged. During the civil rights movement of the late 50’s and 60’s, civil disobedience was used to challenge laws that required black people to sit in the back of the bus, or yield their seat to a white person. These laws never served the common good and needed to be challenged. The city of La Crosse has a law against “nuisance camping.” It forbids homeless people from sleeping on public land. (So… i guess we should - what - like - tell them to go home!!)
I expect this might not sit well with everyone, but it light of Jesus’ behavior, what contributed to his death sentence seems a very Christian thing to do; stand in defiance of laws that do not support the common good, especially when they affect the least of those among us - those often referred to in Old Testament law as widows and orphans.
Are you aware of any such legal hindrances to the common good? Is there is something you can do to address such matters? What would it take to get you to act? It’s something to think about the next time you make a pork sausage pizza for the Sunday afternoon game.