In the lectionary, we find ourselves back in the very down-to-earth world of Mark’s Gospel and the Epistle of James. After the elevated teaching of the Fourth Gospel, it can be a jolt. It can also be a great relief because the teaching is so practical and of immediate use.
Within the Jewish tradition, there is of course great awareness of the danger of external observance. I cite again Rabbi Shapiro’s translation of The Saying of the Fathers (the Pirke Avot). In his translation, he uses the word “Reality” to mean YHWH. It does lead to striking effects.
Shimon the Righteous, one of the last Sages, used to say:
The world stands upon three things—
Upon self-emptying prayer and meditation.
Upon acts of love and kindness.
It is not a bad summary of what we are about.
With best wishes,
Kieran O’Mahony, OSA