Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time



If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you;


In John Macmurray's Conditions of Freedom, he says of religion: 

Now since human nature is intentional, and not mere matter of fact, and since the primary need is to maintain and perpetuate the fellowship, there must be a set of group activities designed to express the consciousness and maintain the intention of fellowship in a common life. These activities constitute the religion of the group. (pg 62)
Intentionality and awareness have become buzzwords lately but Macmurray presented his lectures on the conditions of freedom in 1949. One of the many differences between animals and humans is intentionalityAdult human beings take nothing for granted, neither our valuable things nor our values. They must be deliberately maintained. 

In the last half-century we have watched America's infrastructure fall into disrepair as we pursued the newest, latest hottest technology. Things as mundane as bridges, roads, water mains and sewers were neglected in favor of cell phone towers and fiber optics. People were shocked but not surprised when a bridge in Minneapolis, carrying downtown and Interstate traffic, collapsed into the Mississippi River. 

During the past election both presidential candidates promised new investment in American infrastructure despite the resistance of the party presently controlling the United States Congress. Only time will tell whether security  -- the Wall, Police and the Military -- will receive more money than rebuilding and maintenance of our infrastructure. I bet on the former. But, as Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

More important is our investment in values. I often meet patients in the VA hospital who, seeing my Roman collar, tell me they attend no church and do not believe in religion. But, as they find I am neither surprised nor upset, they add that "young people today have no values."  I bite my tongue and then visit someone else.

Moses told his people centuries before the birth of Jesus, "If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you. 

Jesus is not a substitute for values; he is our values incarnate. If we love him we practice our religion by attending a church faithfully, and by supporting its mission with time, talent and treasure. 

The Founding Fathers gave preference to no religion, but they did appreciate its value and purpose:
"While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian."--The Writings of Washington, pp. 342-343.

"Suppose a nation in some distant Region should take the Bible for their only law Book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and reverence toward Almighty God ... What a Eutopia, what a Paradise would this region be."--Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, Vol. III, p. 9.
There is no substitute for sacrifice in the maintenance of our values. A flood wall, a bridge or a water tower might wait till tomorrow but our values must be practiced intentionally and assiduously daily. They do not wait. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.