Wednesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
(II Kings 22:8-13.23:1-3; Matthew 7:15-20)
A television drama portrayed a man who had gone to Washington to read every book in the Library of Congress. When he returned home, he was asked to share the wisdom that he gained. A crowd assembled for his exposition. He began, “I am the Lord, your God; you shall have no strange gods before me. You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.” Then the people joined the litany. One person after another recited one of the Ten Commandments. The first reading today conveys this sense of rediscovery of ancient wisdom.
The high priest finds the Book of the Law, the first five books of the Bible, in the Temple. Evidently it has been lost or ignored for decades. The setting is the seventh century before Christ. The Northern Kingdom of Israel has been decimated, and Judah is constantly threatened. But at last there is a worthy king whose name is Josiah. When Josiah hears the contents of the Book of the Law, he is overwhelmed with a mixture of sorrow and urgency. He orders that it be read so that the people could once again find the way to righteousness. Unfortunately, Josiah will not live long enough to carry out all the needed reforms. Within fifty years after his premature death Judah falls to the Babylonians.
New ways of thinking seem to make our traditional values outmoded. Some people seem to think that change always means improvement. Sure, knowledge may enhance the quality of life for many. But basic human values – love, truth, goodness, to which the Scriptures testify -- remain the basis of a truly satisfying life. We too must continually scrutinize the Scriptures and follow its wisdom if we are to find our way to happiness.