Single verse spirituality
There is a tendency in our current culture that all one needs is a single verse of scripture to build a spiritual foundation.
I see this quite often. I Meet guys in the prison or folks come into my office and I express spiritual world view and usually in revolves around one single verse of scripture.
Maybe its John 3:16, "God so loved the world he gave his only son that whoever believes in him might have eternal life."
This is just one example. That verse whatever may be becomes the foundation they build on.
They neglect the rest of scripture, the rest of what Jesus has to say, what Paul teaches and so on.
This single verse spirituality is dangerous because often times scripture itself creates nuances that require the whole picture, the whole teaching.
True spirituality looks at the entirety of scripture and tradition and holds the tension that is created by the nuance of what is encountered.
For instance Jesus tells us to love our enemies but he also states that it be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around our neck then to cause one of these little ones to sin. Love takes on a whole different reality when you put these together.
JEsus tells us to honor our mother and Father but at the same time he says unless you hate your mother, Father, brother, sister you cannot be my disciple.
Jesus commands us to turn the other cheek but he also unbraids the the scribes and pharisees of their stubbornness and misreading of scripture.
We are told that God so loved the world that he sent his only son so that whoever believes in him my not perish but have eternal life and yet Jesus also mentions the real possibility of eternal fire and gnashing and grinding of teeth.
Building a spiritual foundation on one verse is very inviting because it means we get to pick and choose what we believe and how we understand it to be put in practice. This is not healthy or holy.
We are invited to open ourselves wide to receive all that Jesus and his church teaches.
Which brings me to today's readings in particular today's gospel. We find in it a verse that many cling to as the single verse of foundation: Do to others as you would have them do to you.
The so called golden rule. If there is one verse that holds the tension of all of Jesus teachings and the teachings of the church this may be it. The golden rule is vague enough to get us in trouble but also precise enough to lead us down the right path.
IT includes both a healthy critique as well as generous giving of respect. It is all inclusive. But it only works when the whole of Christ's teachings and the church is understood. IT is single verse that contains a thousands lessons. We must study them all and then build a foundation rooted in Christ not just to our liking.