Tuesday of 5th Week of OT A

Letters and Spirit of the Laws

In his book, The Heart of the Enlightened, Anthony De Mello told a story of a King ran into a dervish, and in keeping with the custom of the East when a King met a subject, he said, “Ask for a favor.” The dervish replied, “It would be unseemly for me to ask a favor of one of my slaves.” “How dare you speak so disrespectfully to the King,” said a guardsman. “Explain yourself or you shall die.” The dervish said, “I have a slave who is the master of your King.” “Who?” “Fear,” said the dervish. When the body perishes, life is no more. Hence, the erroneous conclusion that to keep the body alive is the same as living.

In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees and some scribes asked Jesus, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?” What is law if it’s not what contained in the letters and the spirit of the law? The Pharisees and the Scribes observed the laws by strictly followed the letters of the laws only. According to one of the laws, one supposed to wash his or her hands before the meal, and Jesus’ disciples didn’t follow. To this, Jesus reminds them the laws of Moses saying, “Honor your father and your mother, and whoever curses father or mother shall die. Yet you say, ‘If someone says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is qorban”’ (meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother.” In order words, if one offered offering to the temple, he or she would not have to give offering to his or her parents. Or better, instead of helping your parents with $100 to pay their electric bill since they cannot pay it themselves, if you offered that $100 to the Church, you wouldn’t have to carry that guilt not helping your parents. The scribes and the Pharisees use their understanding the laws to bend the laws to make profits for themselves.

Just as life cannot exist without the body, the letters of the laws cannot exist without the spirit of the laws. How would one observe the law of honoring the mother and the father by offering what is supposed to use to help parents in honoring them? How would one go to Church when his widow parent at home waiting for him to come to take her to hospital after a fall? How can one honor parents when parents need help from him while he constantly involved in the activities of the Church? What is law for you? Is law contained only letters? Have you ever lived or observed the laws by their letters only?


Weekday Homilies 2019

Homilies by Fr. Joseph Thang Nguyen

Online Giving

Online Giving

Secure and Convenient Donate now!