..tragic situation in Afghanistan is that, despite years of training by coalition forces, billions of dollars of investment in armaments & infrastructure, when the Taliban threatened civil war, Afghan forces didn’t put up a fight, they didn’t even surrender, they melted away.. in 1st rdg Moses warns chosen people, then & now, against external obedience to the covenant, rules of engagement against our foe, knowing 10 commandments off by heart; however, when it comes to putting up a fight to defend, & to live out & up to our spiritual values, we melt away, we go with the flow.. “..every person must come out of Egypt every day..” “..scrupulous faithfulness to observance can turn into formalism”.. talking the talk.. ;Lord have mercy “..humble & persevering observance gives strength to walk for a long distance”.. ;Christ have mercy “..at a regular pace & always together, carrying others & showing the way..” ;Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..rather like report into MP’s expenses some years ago, our gospel has been seriously redacted, with two bite size sections deleted, held from us, the juicy bits; first is where Jesus quotes some of small print of Torah back against Pharisees; an exemption they claim, a “get-out” clause claiming immunity against helping ageing parents, whereas gospel & Rule of St Benedict don’t just preach but witness to primacy of care for the sick & elderly..Ch 37 RSB “human nature itself is drawn to tender concern for those in two extremes of age & youth; their frailty should always be given loving consideration”.. Ch36 “the care of the sick is an absolute priority, which must rank before every other requirement, so that there be no doubt that it is Christ who is truly served in them.” in second deleted section, Jesus takes his disciples to one side “back into the house, away from crowd” & he lets rip at them “do you not understand either?” he expects more from them, & from us, for extra tuition time love & attention he gives to them & us as his inner trusties his favourites.. in text of gospel we did hear just now the strict Pharisees & scribes criticise Our Lords disciples for alleged breaches of purity laws; the sincere practice of ultra-conservatives, fearful of contamination through contact with gentile & pagan.. Jesus criticises only a section of them; those acting hypocritically; he knew sincerity & he could smell the scrupulous legalistic actions of pretenders/lip gloss wearers.. at start of covid pandemic, interesting to listen to diverse views & interpretations, the emerging advice on face masks, social distancing & sanitising.. between those who read guidelines, listened to reasons for them & understood need.. & those who did & still give it lip service & gripe about it all.. one of first remarks as virus first emerged from China came from a lady at Mass at OL&HA “Fr Bede, the virus won’t come into our valley will it?” no religious terms & conditions, no right H&S regulations nor covid restrictions, regardless of how sacred the value or efficacy, if the inner disposition doesn’t correspond to what it signifies, nothing will happen & the cross contamination, with emphasis on “cross” will continue.. if you are here at this Mass for head centred reasons of duty compliance & Sunday best practice, the bread & wine, the words on the page, & those I try to share with you in mutual understanding in homily, remain lipstick/lipgloss.. 2quotes2books 50yrs old “from a controversy on the clean/unclean, good/evil, tradition/newness, Jesus leads us into an altogether different perspective, that of an examination of one’s life & of a conversion from the heart. From simplistic slogans to which each one is tempted to reduce truth to be understood in an individual way, Jesus leads us back to reality, & in the name of this reality, we must attempt to track down our hidden hypocrisies, this ever renewed need to cheaply justify ourselves. Hypocrisy of liturgical worship & private prayer, if they are only a way of washing our hands, if they are only an opportunity to hear the Word of God without allowing it to germinate in us & really produce a merciful attitude & merciful actions. Less well-noticed hypocrisy, & the more dangerous for it, is of our presence to the world & of human solidarity if those cover a mere conformism to all the prevailing ideas & to all the current slogans, or self-complacency.. Hypocrisy of those who multiply the rules in order to pacify themselves & to feel superior to those who do not observe those rules.. Hypocrisy of those who reject rules & laws, if it is simply to live according to their impulses & desires, while taking pride in their freedom. What freedom? It is what comes out of a human being, out of a human heart, that is pure or impure, free or servile, healthy or unhealthy.”.. “to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a person, but if we must boldly speak, what does defile a person is to eat, without washing one’s heart, anything that our reason is naturally apt to eat.” ..what forbidden fruit have you eaten this last week after reasoning it naturally? ..& when was last time you washed/ sanitised not your hands but your heart?..