Daily Refection – 10/17/19
“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.” One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them.”( Luke 11: 42-46)
Today’s Gospel continues with Jesus’ rebuke of the practices of the Pharisees. Why is Jesus so upset? If you take a look at the passage right before today’s Gospel, Luke 11:37-41, Jesus was invited to join a Pharisee for dinner and was rebuked by the Pharisee because Jesus had not ritually cleansed Himself before the meal. It is at that moment, that Jesus hits a boiling point. He refers to the Pharisees as “You fools” (Lk 11:40)
One point that Jesus is trying to make with the Pharisees and scribes is, don’t be tyrannized by the law and don’t tyrannize others through the law. Yes, it is important to have clean hands before a meal, but it is unlikely that God will be upset with a little dirt under your nails. More to the point of today’s Gospel is that loving God, others and yourself; caring for the poor; and living a faith that promotes justice is the message of Jesus. Laws are important, but all laws should help us to live in the Spirit of Christ.
In his teaching Jesus wants his disciples to concentrate on ‘justice and God’s love’ above all other practices and observances. When I begin to judge others without knowing their motives and intentions, I cease to act according to God’s justice. Only God knows our minds and hearts fully and therefore acts justly. But his justice is always characterized by love and mercy. Hence, whatever I do and say should be done with God’s love.
Do I give undue importance to external observances and practices? It is possible that when I observe external things meticulously through the letter of the law, I may be losing sight of the real spirit behind such observances? Do I use a Church teaching or an isolated verse from the bible to prove a point or construct an agenda where which centers on me ? Am I conscious of my own sins and God’s forgiveness for those sins? When I know that God has forgiven my sins I will also look at others with mercy and forgiveness. How much am I conscious of God’s love for me? As I become aware of God’s love, I grow in His love and the love of neighbor. The essence of God’s commandments is love. God is love and everything he does flows from his love for us.
Today, I would ask you to consider what gets in your way of being more loving and what might you put in the way of others that may prevent them from loving God, themselves and others more fully.
Prayer of The Day
Lord, inflame my heart with your love that I may always pursue what matters most — love of God and love of neighbor. Give me wisdom and courage to act with justice, kindness, and mercy in all that I do and say.”
Literally what God is always telling us, inviting us to is to live by His grace. And when we live by His grace, then those gifts and fruits of the Spirit come into our hearts and allow us to live as we are called to live in peace and patience and joy and gentleness and self-control. Then we need not worry about the Law, not because we are free to violate it, but because we have freed ourselves for the full fulfillment of the Law, which is ultimately the law to love God and to love our neighbor