Table fellowship

Our Lord's choice of person to share table fellowship with, scandalises the Pharisees and their scribes. The reason they are disturbed is because "sinners and tax collectors" are unclean. Yet the extending of mercy to outcasts is a sign of the Kingdom of God. Christ has come not only to heal the sick of body, but also those who are sinners. Christ's mission is the forgiveness of sin, for which He was willing to die. Christ invites sinners to conversion. Without conversion no one can enter the Kingdom of God. Christ discriminates against the self-righteous who think they have no need of God. Christ does not welcome the proud, until they humble themselves to repent. God's mercy is endless and there is indeed more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents because unrepentant sinners cannot enter into the Kingdom of God!

We might consider that the problem with the Pharisees was that they were caught up in their own interpretation and development of the Law. Many Christians accuse Catholics of something similar: of building up "traditions" that are human interpretations of the Scriptures - whereas, of course, they believe they have a pure faith based upon Scripture alone (sola Scriptura). The opposite is actually the case. Holy Tradition is in fact the guidance by the Holy Spirit leading the Church into all the truth, something which our Lord promised would happen (for He didn't have the time to teach His disciples everything they needed). Catholics submit themselves to the Sacred Tradition given through the Holy Spirit and guaranteed by the Magisterium (teaching authority). They do not interpret Holy Scripture with the first thought that enters their head. Rather they listen to the Holy Scriptures within the Church, within the guidance of the Holy Spirit that is the Holy Tradition. Personal thoughts are just that, personal thoughts! Personal thoughts do not save! Just because we think we are nice Christians and feel close to God does not mean our thoughts reveal God's Word! 

So this Lent let us discipline our reading of Holy Scripture and submit ourselves to the guidance of the Holy Spirit through Sacred Tradition, not through personal interpretation. One very easy way we can do this is to use the Catechism of the Catholic Church and look up the citations of Holy Scripture. When we are reading a passage from Scripture look it up in the citations and find the paragraphs in the Catechism that refer to it. Then we shall know what it is the Holy Spirit has revealed to the Church about those particular verses in Scripture.

Fr Ian

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