MARCH 26, 2014 - THIRD WEDNESDAY OF LENT

DEUTERONOMY 4:1, 5-9; MATTHEW 5:17-19

As we reflect on the two Scripture readings in this morning's liturgy, we are confronted with a challenge that has caused endless perplexity in the course of history.   The issue of how literally a sincere believer in God's revelation is to interpret the Bible.  This question often recurs when we seriously give thought to any number of passages, especially in the Old Testament. That it arises also in the New Testament is evidenced in the Gospel text we have just heard.   Matthew has it that Jesus himself was sufficiently concerned about this matter that he addressed it openly and took a decided position on a particular occasion.  He leaves no room for doubt as he expresses his mind in the strongest manner: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.  I have come not to abolish but to fulfill."  On other occasions he applied this principle in ways that proved highly disconcerting.   Take his view of divorce: "he who puts away his wife and marries another, commits adultery" was sharply opposed to the Jewish traditional practice of his time.   How far does that teaching apply to other commitments such as religious vows has undergone much scrutiny in the course of history.  Once a Catholic makes a vow for life are there conditions that justify its annulment?  Do such conditions apply to marriage also?  The Church has reviewed such questions in our own day and has revised the practice while maintaining fidelity to the substance of revealed teaching.

One effect of this ongoing interpretation of the inspired teaching of Scripture is to cause each of the faithful to take a more deliberate, conscious responsibility for the fidelity of the way of life we are committed to by our choices in life.  Fidelity to God remains dynamic throughout life in that each day we renew our fundamental commitments both to God and to persons.   Our times continue to experience large challenges to fidelity to God and to society.  There are serious incursions against the binding force of vows that seem to grow more aggressive every year.  Not only the high divorce rate but also the numerous departures from priesthood and religious life and currently there are serious charges against our civil leaders of violations of the basic laws of country give us cause to renew with deliberation our total commitment to the Lord who made us and who is our Savior.

The readings at this liturgy confront us with this radical issue of personal fidelity to the God who created us and who has revealed His love for us by giving his son to live and die for us. We offer this Eucharist at this altar today in thanksgiving for His gifts and to seek the grace of daily fidelity to His life giving word.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger