Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Sixth Sunday of Easter Cycle C

Welcome to read homilies for the Sundays of the year. These are sample homilies which you can read with devotion. You may use them in your own homilies without asking my permission. You may also change or edit these to fit them to your audience. A unique quality of these homilies is that they are Christ-filled. From beginning to end they present to us some aspect of Jesus so that beholding his glory we “are being transformed from glory to glory into his very image” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NAB).

The Result May Be Denied

Last Sunday we learned something about logic. We discovered that logic or correct thinking is very dear to Jesus because he is logos, the Word, from which the word logic is derived. Jesus wants us to think correctly. He established the laws of correct thinking which were discovered by the philosophers.

We also learned about one kind of conditional syllogism or argument. This was the Modus Ponens in Latin or Way of Affirming in English. We learned that in this kind of argument the condition can only be affirmed. It cannot be denied. In our example we said, If it is raining, the streets are wet. The condition "if it is raining" can only be affirmed in order to have a correct conclusion. If we deny it no correct conclusion can be made. If we say that it is not raining, we cannot say that the streets are not wet. This is because they can be wet even without a rain, as by a flood from a dam of water.

Thus from our Gospel reading last Sunday we learned that if we love one another, all men will know we are disciples or followers of Jesus. We cannot say, because we do not love one another, therefore all men will not know we are Jesus' disciples. This is not correct thinking although it is nice to hear this and seems to be a good topic for preaching. But we know Jesus does not want us to make such a statement because it is wrong thinking.

Today we are going to learn the pair of Modus Ponens or Way of Affirming. This is the Modus Tollens or Way of Denying. This way of argument or reasoning is applicable to a statement we heard Jesus say in our Gospel reading a few minutes ago.

Jesus says, "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him."

We can apply the Modus Tollens or Way of Denying reasoning here. But first we need to explain a bit what this Way of Denying is.

Remember that in a conditional argument of the Way of Affirming there are four parts. These are the condition, the consequent, the affirmation and the conclusion.

In a conditional argument of the Way of Denying there are also four parts. But instead of the affirmation in the third part we have the denial. So we have these four parts: the condition, the consequent, the denial and the conclusion.

To illustrate by way of the example we used, which have been also used by philosophers and mathematicians, we have: If it is raining, the streets are wet. But the streets are not wet. Therefore it is not raining.

Notice here that the consequent is denied, therefore the conclusion is the denial of the condition, namely, it is not raining. This is correct reasoning. If we deny the consequent, then we also deny the condition. Common sense tells us that if the streets are not wet then there is no rain.

Let us now apply this to the statement of Jesus. This statement can be made into a conditional argument this way: If a person loves Jesus, he will keep Jesus' word. Now let us deny the consequent. But he does not keep Jesus' word. The conclusion according to the rule of Way of Denying is that we also deny the condition. Therefore he does not love Jesus.

It is amazing that in the Gospel passage we have, Jesus applies this conclusion. Notice the next sentence in our Gospel reading. Jesus continues, "Whoever does not love me does not keep my words". Here we have Jesus using the Modus Tollens or Way of Denying.

It is clear now that if we do not keep Jesus' word this tells us that we do not love him. To keep on loving Jesus, we have to keep his word.

We go now to the meaning of keeping the word of Jesus.

The original Greek word for "keeping" here is teyrein which has these meanings: to keep watch, to guard, to watch over protectively, to keep strictly, to preserve, to shield, to store up, to reserve, to keep in custody, to maintain, to keep in a good condition.

Thus we see that the word "keep" here has many meanings. The one who showed us the real meaning of this "keep" is Mama Mary. In Luke 2:19 we read, "Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart". The same root word is used here, teyrein. The Pulpit Commentary has a beautiful explanation of this verse. It says that Mary waited and thought, writing down her reflections and showed these to Luke the Evangelist later who wrote about this.

To keep the word of Jesus is to mark it attentively, to heed or obey it, to consider it as a treasure to watch over and protect. That is why our New American Bible translates this word as "treasure". Notice Jesus used the singular here, word, meaning the fullness of all that he said, a unity because if we disobey one word we disobey all.

To keep the word of Jesus is to be like Mama Mary, always thinking of what Jesus said and reflecting on it and guarding it so as to pay heed to it and obey it.

The word of Jesus is one, the whole Bible, with all the lived experiences connected with it. These experiences we call tradition.

Keeping the word of Jesus is totally different from using it to prove an idea we have. There are some people, even preachers, who study the Bible not to keep it but to use its words in an argument so that they appear to be wise in the word of God. These persons are users and manipulators of the word of God. They are not keepers of God's word. They catch unsuspecting listeners to agree with them and eventually persuade them to join their group. They appear to be experts in the Bible, using this and that statement with complete chapter and verse reference but their only purpose is to prove themselves right. Keep away from them. They are not keepers of Jesus' word. And according to the argument we learned they do not love Jesus.

On the contrary let us love the Bible and treasure it in our hearts. If we do not open and read our Bible and ponder over what we read there on a habitual basis, not once in a while, but as a habit, it merely shows we have no love for Jesus.

Let us pray to Jesus to guide us in keeping his word, the Bible. Let us bow our heads.

Lord Jesus, help us to read you, to think of you day and night so that we always follow you. Amen.

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