We’ve all heard of “Cafeteria Catholicism,” whereby Catholics pick and choose which teachings they will obey. What if we took the same concept and applied it to the Sunday readings? We could call it … the lunch-line lectionary. Don’t like the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel reading? No problem! Do your best to ignore it, and zero-in on the Pauline epistle or the Old Testament reading. The odds are decent that at least one of them is palatable. That’s essentially what Ken Overberg, S.J., does in his homily this weekend for the students and baby boomers at Xavier University’s Bellarmine Chapel. He also rehashes some of the most thoroughly discredited assumptions of the historical-critical method, and, for good measure, likens the butchers of ISIS to the Samaritans.

For many years the Church has been teaching us to pay attention to the historical context of the Scriptures, reminding us that these writings are God’s word in human words.

Both the first reading from Ezekiel and the reading from Matthew’s gospel speak about community relations and correction. Recall that Ezekiel lived almost 600 years before Jesus. Ezekiel’s image of God, while still prominent today (perhaps in some of us), was NOT shared by Jesus. So, along with the prophetic call to faithfulness, we also hear today a rather harsh image of God.

Matthew’s gospel, written more than fifty years after Jesus, also addresses community conflicts and the possibility of reconciliation. Today’s passage clearly expresses issues of Matthew’s community, put back onto the lips of Jesus. The evangelist was convinced that the presence of the risen One was guiding the community’s life, even in its tensions.

Our continuing reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans happens to give a helpful emphasis for appreciating the other two readings and their theme of community interaction. Paul urges the Romans (and now us) to love one another. Everything is summed up in this simple yet profound command.

Let’s listen to God’s word.

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