Tuesday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
(Colossians 2:6-15; Luke 6:12-19)
Gnosticism may very well be the “empty, seductive philosophy” mentioned in today’s passage from the Letter to the Colossians. This ancient practice held that spiritual creation is inherently good while material creation is evil. Consequently, according to Gnostics, the body is corrupt and concern for the body, trivial. Nevertheless, some followers engaged in promiscuous sexual activity with the justification that the best way of showing contempt for the body is to flout the rules of morality.
The Letter to the Colossians looks to Christ as the way through such charming ideas. His salvific death on the cross confirms the value of the body. More than that, it unites Jew and Greek by providing a common forgiveness of sins. It liberates the former from the guilt of failing to fulfill exactly the letter of the Law and the latter from sexual libertinism.
The Letter urges its readers, which includes us, to hold on to the faith. In ancient times, perhaps no less than today, there were many spinoffs of apostolic teaching. Yet the Church remains its true interpreter. We can take pride in leaders like the recent popes who are so kind, learned, and diligent. But even when Church officials leave us embarrassed, the Holy Spirit assures that its teachings chart for us the course of salvation.