Fr. Dubay writes, “The divine disclosure is a closely knit whole. One doctrine cannot be rejected without the rejection affecting other doctrines. It is both interesting and significant that they who reject a single teaching usually go on eventually to reject others and, sometimes, the whole. It is doubly significant that they never succeed in presenting to their listeners or readers a substitute and consistent whole to replace what they have mutilated. Each of the interlinking parts of our theology strengthens the others, and each multiplies the probative power of the others. In his ‘Essay on Development’ Newman noted that a person may easily object to one doctrine by itself and seem to have something of a case when the related doctrines are not considered (and this is common in merely popular articles and conversations), but for any thinking, informed person this objecter is demolished by the weight of the whole” (p. 31-32, HAYP).
This morning’s Gospel is a great example of how we miss the teaching when we do not consider the whole. In countless counseling sessions, in spite of Jesus’ consistent teaching against sin, and repeated call for immediate repentance, this Gospel reading is referred to as a way to somehow make the case that Jesus condones or approves of sin because – “see?” – even though they are sinners, he dines with them.
Of course this completely misses the point of this reading. The real point is that there is no sin greater than God’s mercy. In other words, while the religious elites of Matthew’s day had long since disposed of them as not deserving mercy, Jesus breaks through to infuse repentance, forgiveness, and healing into their lives … Jesus was not condoning, but offering a way out, when the world would not.
We can see how easy it is to slip into moral relativism when we pick and choose certain truths, while rejecting or disregarding others. For us Anawim, we must resist the temptation to inflate ourselves to such a state that we consider ourselves more intellectually and spiritually imbued than Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition itself.