Today we find a beautiful balance in the Liturgy of The Word which very sensibly steers us away from the danger of that which is called fundamentalism. Fundamentalism occurs in the life of the faithful when we look at one given phrase of Holy Scripture and say “Ah here is the truth; this is it”, this approach can make us insensitive and hard and distorts the overall flow of Holy Scripture and the unfolding wisdom of Church Tradition.
In today’s First Reading Jeremiah is so filled with Godly conviction as to have become a “Pillar of iron and a wall of bronze”. The inference for us is that in terms of our Christian Principles we are to be similarly placed. Jeremiah in this disposition will unfailingly challenge the errors of his time which are found in a society where God is constantly dismissed and relegated to the edges. His circumstance is similar with our moment in history and we can draw inspiration and courage from his conviction.
In today’s Gospel, Luke chapter four, Jesus is also firmly anchored in his convictions. He speaks in a manner that is not politically correct. He is cognisant of the richness of the Jewish tradition but reminds his Jewish listeners that their great prophet Elijah revealed the life of God to a Non-Jewish widow and her son and that Elijah’s revered successor Elisha revealed God’s healing through the Syrian, Naaman. This manner of speech was anathema to His listeners but Jesus is truth itself, He is the very fulfilment of Elijah and Elisha who are the centre piece of the revered heritage of Judaism and so he leads with truthful challenge.
In our times we also will be called to speak with firm conviction. We will need the iron and bronze of Jeremiah and the truth of Jesus with us. However, we will also need the fullest possible import of Scripture and Tradition in our minds and hearts to keep us Godly. That is why the church carefully inserts 1Cor 13 “Love is always patient and kind………..” in today’s well balanced Liturgy of The Word. We need to stay firmly with our ethics and our Christian convictions but all our proclamations need to be based in genuine charity. Taking the fullest look at Scripture and Tradition will free us from fundamentalism, it will not lessen our zeal but lead us in the pathways of Love and Wisdom.