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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Oct. 30, 2011

By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service

October 30, Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle A Readings:

1) Malachi 1:14b-2:2b, 8-10

Psalm 131:1-3

2) 1 Thessalonians 2:7b-9, 13

Gospel: Matthew 23:1-12

I have a friend who is a convert to Catholicism. He explained once that when he was younger he would sometimes question a teaching of the church. He would boldly exclaim, "I don't believe that!" about whatever his current issue was.

He went on to explain that over time he began, through life experience, to discover that he had been misguided and the church was right about the wide variety of teachings he had previously questioned.

As a consequence, he changed his proclamation to: "I don't believe that ... yet!" He told me that through his prideful proclamations and subsequent reversals he had learned a valuable lesson: His 50-some years on the planet is no match for the church's 2,000 years, rooted in another 2,000 years of Jewish history.

There is no question that throughout history some teachings have been greeted by confusion and questioning, but the teaching authority of the church, guided by the Holy Spirit, remains steadfast.

The readings from this week speak to our need to obey authority. In the Gospel, Jesus gives us insight into how to deal with situations when we question authority. He says: "The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you."

The prophet Malachi instructs the Levitical priests not to break faith with one another or the covenant. He is challenging them to stay faithful to the word of the Lord.

St. Paul says something similar but directs it to the lay faithful: "In receiving the word of God from hearing us, you received not a human word but, as it truly is, the word of God, which is now at work in you who believe."

These readings remind us what my friend slowly learned after converting to the Catholic faith. The church bases its teachings on the living Word of God, written down in the Bible and continually passed on through the magisterium. There may be times when we do not fully understand certain teachings, but when we give the assent of our faith to them we find peace.

Jesus says it beautifully: "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted."


Are there aspects of the church's teaching that you do not fully understand ... yet? What insights do this week's readings give you for such situations?


"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted" (Matthew 23:12).


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