Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Odds and ends

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I have a few exciting and fun days ahead: tomorrow my Mom is coming to Chicago for a week, along with all four of my sisters and one niece.  (The whole gang can't stay the week, but it will be quite a weekend with that many Flanagan women in one place.) My sisters, niece and I will be doing a Segway tour of Chicago while Mom takes in a quiet movie. (She's not up for that much adventure.) We hope to hit my favorite spice shop, too.

Today I had to fill in downstairs in the book center for quite a good part of the day--and then get the community some groceries (which took a bit more of the day). While I was "on the floor" I took a couple of phone calls: orders for our recent book, "The Mass Explained for Kids." As you may suspect, several of the orders were not for kids at all, but for grown-up Catholics who find the adult presentations on the changes in the Mass a bit intimidating. (That's one reason there aren't juvenile pictures in the book; the editors suspected there would be a high percentage of adult readers.) (Don't forget about my video explanations of the Mass changes; and check back occasionally for the other five or six that are still being edited.)

It seems a bit late to be commenting on today's Mass readings,  but that's what happened to the day. Anyway, I was struck at how, yet again, the first reading and the Gospel, which are not intentionally paired in any way, seemed to play off each other. St Paul is getting into that massive letter to the Romans by warning of the spiritual peril of condemning others for faults you yourself have--as if by enforcing God's law on others you could fulfill it by proxy! (Paul makes pretty free use of the language of "wrath" here to describe that spiritual peril.)

Jesus doesn't speak of wrath. He prefers "Woe!" (Same difference to me.) Woe over what? Woe to those who burden others with religious obligations, and who carry out the minimum prescriptions with exaggerated care, while minimizing the things that really count in God's sight: justice, mercy, faithfulness.
It's the message of all the prophets, from Moses to Jeremiah and Amos and all the way to the Apostle James. Prayers and public devotion do not offset neglect of God's manifest will towards our neighbor.

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