Daily Reflection, 10/15/19
After Jesus had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at the table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.”( Luke 11: 37-41)
The Mosaic Law was intended to free the Israelites for worship, delivering them from slavery to pagan gods and from slavery to sin. When the Law (and the added customs and regulations) became an end in itself, it was truncated and severed from the One to whom it was meant to lead.
The danger we face is that most Christian churches have developed their owm rules, regs and suggested behaviors . Our issue is thatv we can adhere to them with such vigor that we lose sight of the One they are freeing us to worship. We don’t allow our hearts and minds to be educated and formed by them, we just follow them blindly. We wind up cleaning the outside of the cup and stopping there, without going on to see God’s love The second trap we can fall into is at the other extreme: to give ourselves an easy pass by presuming that if my heart is in the right place, I don’t need to worry about all these rules and such. With a lax attitude we permit ourselves to ease up on fulfilling these laws which in truth will free us.
The law of love is the most important of all the commandments of the Lord. In Chapter 12 of the Gospel of Mark, Christ responds to a scribe’s question about the first of all the commandments: The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. Love of God and neighbor is both the source and the summit of the Law of the Old Covenant and of the New. Living these two greatest commandments purifies and cleanses our heart.
Yet, in parish after parish over the last 45 years, I always find a small group of parishioners who act more like Pharisees than followers of Christ. They look for literal applications of teachings so they can set themselves apart from the rest. In Catholicism, they look for a rubric to justify their smugness. In other more biblical stringent communities, they look for an application of the Word that justifies their behavior. The ironic part to me is these are“ Christians” in name but their lives often show a rigidity or lack of love that makes one wonder whether their spirit is in keeping with that of a true believer. It always comes back to a phrase we all know: “Judge not lest you be judged.”
Prayer of The Day
Lord, I want my heart always to be focused on you. I need your guidance, for I can’t do it alone. I need you to teach me how to love you, how to worship and serve you. The laws you give me free me and guide me toward you. Help me to see your hand leading me.
Let us resolve: If there is a rule or a Word of scripture that I don’t understand or don’t practice, study it to come to understand better how it frees me and guides me in my relationship with Christ and prevents me from judging.