Daily Reflection
August 1st, 2003
Barb Dilly
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori
Leviticus 23:1, 4-11, 15-16, 27, 34b-37
Psalm 81:3-4, 5-6, 10-11ab 
Matthew 13:54-58

The Old Testament reading and the Psalm for today bring to my attention the structure of our worship life based on rules and guidelines.  The language is authoritarian.  "You shall celebrate at their proper time" is repeated with "you shall" details in the book of Leviticus.  The Psalmist also reminds us of statues, ordinances, and decrees in the way we "Sing with joy to God our help" in the time and manner ordered by God.

But the gospel message says something else.  Jesus is credited with wisdom and knowledge of the Old Testament rules and structure for living, but he challenges those who follow them strictly.  Jesus wants us to follow God through faith, not rules.  The Lord who led us forth from the land of Egypt made it clear to the people then and now what was expected of us.  We are to call on God for help with joy.  But it is easy for us to get caught up in the structure and rules of religious life when we need help.

Jesus reminds us that God's mighty deeds are not done because we uphold the rules, but because of our faith.  And while He did not withdraw from the people in his native place to punish them for rejecting him, He moved on because they did not have faith that his teachings and miracles were of God.

My personal reflection on this is that faith in Jesus offers us far more hope in our times of need than do rules and laws.  That does not mean that our structured faith traditions are not important.  But Jesus asked us to practice them in faith, not through habit.  Jesus calls us to make our faith relevant in each time and place.  I guess that is why I am so thankful for the ministry of my friend John Ylvisaker.  He is the author of "I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry" and about 1,000 other songs he has written for contemporary sacred assembly.  This week he presented "Amigos de Cristo - We're Friends of the Lord," a Latin American music mass at my church in Omaha, NE.  We invited all the churches in the area interested in outreach to our growing Hispanic population to participate.  The mass incorporated traditional church musicians with a wide variety of instruments, as well as a Mariachi band.  And we even sang "Alleluia" with joy to God our help to the traditional Mexican tune "La Bamba!"  It was a true festival of the Lord!.

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response to the writer of this reflection.
Let Your Friends Know About This Reflection By Sending Them An E-mail

Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook