God believes in, and wants the best for us … the Commandments build true Community and freedom
While studying the Bible in the seminary to become a missionary, I was occasionally accused of practicing ‘eisegesis’ (iso-gee-sis), when I should have been practicing ‘exegesis’. Surely I was just ahead of my time; after all, we now have the iPhone, the iPad, the i-everything!
‘Eisegesis’ (to lead into), means the interpretation of a passage based on a subjective, non-analytical reading: the interpreter makes it mean whatever they want.
Exegesis (to lead out of), means the interpreter is led to their conclusions by following the text after a careful, objective analysis.
These explanations help us judge our reasoning when we choose to break the 10 Commandments. Here are two stories from the State of Victoria, Australia, this past week: 1) there is an a big increase in people suffering mental health and suicide; 2) some MP’s want to stop the Lord’s Prayer being recited at the start of each day in Parliament.
Can people not see a connection? As we throw God and regular religious practice out the window, our people are suffering more (mental health & violence), and losing hope (suicide).
Another Aussie news story also validates this: people are complaining that the Government Centrelink phone system (Social Services), is hanging up on people: up to 3 days for help.
50 years ago, Social Services was a very small Government department. People looked after themselves, their children and their neighbours. What has happened?
50 years ago – admittedly technology has complicated things – the taxation rule book was very small (now it is huge and complex); Criminal Statute Laws were very few compared to today: every year people are finding new ways to avoid the laws we have so, many laws are created. This also happened in the past, but very little compared to today. What has happened?
In Kenya, this week, I talked with some older Kenyans who had very trustworthy – also old – workers who had been with them for many years: they all said the old workers are very honest.
Today, people assume that everyone else is dishonest and live accordingly. We are stressed looking over our shoulders! No wonder mental health issues are increasing and suicides, also, for many reasons related to the change in societal values. A funny story from a Kenyan family:
The head teacher calls all the teachers and tells them to ask each student to bring 20 shillings (20 bob) for the school photo. The teachers address their students in class: you must bring 50 bob each for the school photo. The students go home and tell mum: we must bring 100 bob each for the school photo. The mum goes mad, wondering where she will get 100 bob and criticising the school for asking for too much! Mum fronts up to dad and says: can you believe it, dear husband, the children need 200 bob each for the school photo.
I think similar things go on in Australia and other countries. Today’s readings remind us of the only way we can grow closer to each and live without fear – at least in a communal sense.
The Readings invite us to live the 10 Commandments – and all that means. It’s challenging, as St Paul reminds us: “We have a wisdom to offer those who have reached maturity: not a philosophy of our age, it is true, … The hidden wisdom of God which we teach in our mysteries is the wisdom that God predestined to be for our glory before the ages began.”
What are we doing with our freedom? Are the 10 Commandments guide-posts or rejected?
If we are not careful, our country and our world will slide quickly back into the world before Christ: survival of the fittest/ strongest, dog-eat-dog, etc. While doing research, the following article was revealing: The Standard – Growing up corrupt a journey into adulthood in Kenya.
After lamenting his forced initiation into bribery as a teenager, he took up development studies and made the following exclamation: It was only when I stepped into the ‘Development 101′ class, and a picture was painted of Mobutu Sese Seko’s Zaire, Omar Bongo’s Gabon, Ferdinand Marcos’ Philippines and many others, that I finally understood – on a personal level – the devastating, inter-generational effects of corruption on health, education, security and on all socio-economic aspects of life.
Corruption is basically a rejection of the 10 Commandments. However, it is understandable that the “little people” in society have to engage in it to survive and look after their families in the short-term. You either need resources (money), or be willing to suffer (sometimes greatly), to protest or refuse to cooperate with corruption. Do your best!
Today we choose: we embrace the 10 commandments (=life), or we reject them for a slow death. Will we practice eisegesis and excuse our “corruption”,
or exegesis, and let God guide us out of corruption and into peace and freedom again?
By Gerard Conlan, OMI