Wednesday, November 4, 2015

love and hate

Some Christians and these days even some Catholics behave as if the Bible one day fell from the sky with the words in it magically written by God. Every word in that world is taken to to literally true. They forget that God used humans to write the words and that it was the Church over time that decided, guided by the Holy Spirit, which words were truly the inspired word of God and which were not. That's why the Gospel of John is in the Bible and the Gospel of Thomas is not. The problem with the literalist looks at the Bible become immediately apparent today when in the two readings we are given two opposed commands. 

In the first reading St. Paul tells us 

Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another

The word for love is the well known agape.

In the Gospel Jesus tells us

If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,  wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. (Lk 14:26)

The word here is the less well-known miseo.  It means to hate or detest. 

Jesus uses the same word in Matthew's gospel when he says, 

You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." but I say to you...(Mt 5:43ff)

Does Jesus really intend us to hate or is it simply hyperbole to get the hearers attention?

If you read the single verse literally, we are to hate ourselves and our family.

We know that is it hyperbole, because of a principle of interpretation called the unity of scripture. If If If there is one God 
and God does not change.
Then every verse of scripture to be properly interpreted must be understood n the context of the whole Bible.

This is part of the mission Jesus entrusted to those he chose to lead the Church. Not only were the apostle's entrusted with spreading his word but making sure they were not misinterpreted, or misused. We believe that the Holy Spirit has continued throughout the centuries to guide the successors of the apostles in this activity. We use the Latin word Magisteium to describe it. Magister- is a teacher. 

Jesus understood human nature and how there would be those who either out of ignorance or malice would misuse or misinterpret his words. He saw in in his earthly life how some of the so-called scholars of the law, twisted what God had revealed in the Old Testament.  He did not want the same thing to happen to his words, after his ascension.  And if we look at the history of Christianity it has unfortuately at times happened over the centuries.  But the Spirit always leads us back to the truth and the Spirit continues to guide us to a deeper understanding of that truth. 

May we never cease to immerse ourselves in the Word of God, and may we have the humility to recognize our need for guidance in the proper interpretation of the same.