Grand God or Puny God?
Grand God or puny God? The homily focuses on the prayer of Solomon who recognizes the puny nature even of a magnificent Temple as compared with the immensity and grandeur of God. The gospel shows how in the selective following of the Law, the Scribes and the Pharisees make God small and puny.
Going Behind the Word
Perhaps it was because my brother and I helped my mom move into a senior facility that I was struck by the line from the gospel today about ignoring the needs of parents in the name of serving God. Here is what I am referring to when I say this. “For Moses said, 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.”
On simply a human level this seems cold and wrong. But on a personal level, I cannot imagine saying to my mother that I would not be able to help her because I was giving all that would have gone to help her to God.
Following the Rules or Following Jesus?
The issue behind the criticism of Jesus is that the “washing of hands”, which was not used in the sense we use it today, but to purify the Jews from any potential unclean contact with the Gentiles they might possibly have had. So they criticize Jesus and his disciples for not doing this minor observance. But Jesus ignores this criticism altogether.
Rather, he points out their absolute hypocrisy. For they take a good an honorable commandment of the Law, namely “honor your father and your mother” and twist it in a way that allows the Pharisees to be enriched when people set aside some donation for the Temple so that they can avoid spending on their parents.
So the real scandal is to avoid the purpose of the law to fulfill the greed of the Pharisees. For to honor mother and father was not simply a surface respect, but the dedication and devotion that children have to provide for all their parents’ needs.
Rules that lead to holiness
And so the question of today’s homily, Grand God or Puny God?, is really connected to whether religion is about faith in God and living and acting like God, or whether it gets used for selfish reasons to enrich myself.
The hard part of true faith, especially for Christians, is that there needs to be an understanding that following Jesus means embracing his Paschal Mystery, namely that like Jesus we too must die to self in order to rise anew based on what God wants from us.
And so the question, Grand God or Puny God?, is a challenge to me, and perhaps to you too, about what I expect from my faith in God. Am I seeking to follow Jesus wherever he leads me, even if it means great sacrifice, or am I looking only for a comfortable religion that makes me feel better but makes no real demands on me?
This is the real implication of the question, Grand God or Puny God?. Just what do we want to offer God? How will we give ourselves to God? Will it be in a small and difficult way, holding back what we do not want to give, or will it be total, seeing in all we do the invitation to discipleship in Jesus so that we do all that he asks of us.