Teach Us Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge- Reflection for Mass of October 23, 2009

23 Oct

Friday, October 23, 2009
Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Romans 7:18-25a; Psalm 119:66, 68, 76, 77, 93, 94; Luke 12:54-59

Today’s readings are very Basilian. In the first verse of the Responsorial Psalm, we hear the Congregation’s motto, “Teach me goodness, discipline, and knowledge,” in a more up-to-date translation: “Teach me good judgement and knowledge.” (1) In place of “good judgement,” other English translations read “discernment” or “wisdom.” (2) Whatever the translation, we pray for openness toward God’s will and purpose for us. That will of God is the ultimate freedom with which God created us, sustains us, and will save us.

Psalm 119, from which we hear a part today, is the longest of the Biblical psalmody, an acrostic poem in the order of the Hebrew alphabet. This Psalm is a beautiful reflection on God’s “laws,” not merely empty legal stipulations but a grace-filled call to recognize God’s liberating direction in the here and now. (3)

This relates closely to today’s Gospel reading, in which Jesus criticizes the crowd for their hypocritical incapacity to “interpret the present time” while being able to “interpret the appearance of earth and sky.” (4) As the son of a meteorologist, I am intrigued by Jesus’ opening references to the rain following the cloud from the west and to the heat riding on the southerly wind. (5)

Some of Jesus’ disciples might have had a gift of forecasting weather long before the advent of modern meteorology. But Jesus asks more of us than that. Our Basilian Way of Life lists five sources from which the Lord “speaks to us:” “in the Scriptures, through the Church, in our community, in the signs of the times, and by His Spirit.” (6) In the Gospel, we see a phrase similar to “the signs of the times.”

Our interpretation of these “signs of the times,” in the context of our community and ecclesial lives enlivened by Sacred Scripture and guided by the Holy Spirit, must not be a submission to every whim of the world around us, nor ought we to adopt an exclusive legalism that shuts out the goodness of the world that God has made for us.

Jesus did not come primarily to judge the world, but to free us by uniting His will to that of His and our Father. (7) Therefore we are not appointed as judges, (8) but as disciples who pray to be able to interpret the word of God in our time by our everyday generosity and joy in response to God’s gift of our religious life. (9) Let us then petition the Lord, as in our Basilian motto and today’s Psalm: “Teach [us] goodness, discipline, and knowledge.”



2 Responses to “Teach Us Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge- Reflection for Mass of October 23, 2009”

  1. canadiancatholicblog October 23, 2009 at 12:14 pm #


    (1) Psalm 119:66
    (2) For example, my New American Bible translation reads, “Teach me wisdom and knowledge.” The Greek Septuagint translation, “χρηστότητα καὶ παιδείαν καὶ γνῶσιν δίδαξόν με,” transliterated as “chrēstotēta kai paideian kai gnōsin didaxon me,” (see http://mlbible.com/psalms/119-66.htm) became “Bonitatem et disciplinam et scientiam doce me” in the Latin Vulgate. This is the motto of the Congregation of St. Basil. See also an essay on the Basilian motto, “Teach me Goodness, Discipline, and knowledge,” linked to our Order’s website, http://www.basilian.org/Meet_the_Basilians/motto_en.php.
    (3) cf. New American Bible, Note on Psalm 119. (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1970), 682 (Old Testament).
    (4) Luke 12:56
    (5) cf. Luke 12:54-55
    (6) Basilian Way of Life, 7.
    (7) cf. John 20:17
    (8) cf. Luke 12:57-59
    (9) cf. Basilian Way of Life, 7.



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