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WOF Radio > Sermons > Sermon Archive for 2009 > Sermon 451 : The Dilemma of the Law : 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Claudia Rushlow, SC
Right on! So much better than EWTN.
8/26/2009 12:52:27 PM
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Giovanni Secchi
Fr. Robert, as I am used to, you have explained the readings in a very vivid way and you simultaneously point to the crux of the matter. Marvelous! – I just add some thoughts here.

I would not choose the wording of the previous comment, as EWTN is by far not less precious; anyway, such contrastive patterns even lead me directly to my concern.

Human thinking often tends to simplify connections in a way that emphasises one aspect. The Pharisees do so by stressing the aspect of the signifier and somehow neglecting that of the signified. In fact, Moses demands that nothing of the Law should be disregarded, but the problem comes now, because the meaning behind is forgotten. Consequently, Jesus quotes Isaiah and points to the necessary correspondence between “lips” and “heart”. James 1:22 has also to do with the expression of faith, even though by means of deeds. We can summarise: deeds and words can be regarded as the level of the signifier (1) and the Faith as the level of the signified (2). Aristotelian thinking would apply the terms of form (1) and substance (2).
Of course, the Faith is the Main Foundation. But God knows that we, His creatures, need to express it, even while praying in the silence of our little chamber. Otherwise the antiphon from Psalm 51:15 would not make much sense (“Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will speak out your praise.”). As God wants us to unite with him in that divine overwhelming Love (nourished by himself), this “communication” involves also our true expression by the rather human means of prayer, praise and deeds. That sense of correspondence can be also seen in Jam 4:17 (“Everyone who knows what is the right thing to
do and does not do it commits a sin.”) and Mat 7:19-23 (fruits of Faith). As long as there is that binding linkage between both levels of signifier and signified, there is no real problem. You can see a general reflection on that principle in Plato’s Cratylus 384c-d, "ónoma" works by keeping the convention/connection ("synthé(e)ke(e) kaì homología") between signifier and signified).

Why am I so raging? It has nothing to do with Fr. Robert, on the contrary, he is a real hero. It is because a homily in my local parish approached the readings in a rather antagonistic way, that bowing, kneeling and oral communion were implicitly questioned, at least examplified as mere external behaviours (disregarding the meaning!). If we would generalise such radical antagonisms in all areas, we would not be far from heresies like Gnosticism (evil body – clean soul) or typical Protestant concepts (Faith without works). It is dangerous, if the general doubt can even devour the basis of liturgy or communication at all.
8/30/2009 9:34:45 PM
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Dan Bartleson
This is the best expression of an intelligent and passionate Catholic Christianity I have found on line. Thank you!
8/30/2009 11:47:55 PM
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