I love the readings for today because they connect so beautifully. The Church is brilliant with how it pairs readings sometimes. The first reading for today speaks about the importance of the law and statutes and decrees that are given by Moses. Moses must have been a brilliant salesman because he implores the people to follow the statutes and says that if they do, other nations will look at them as an intelligent society. So of course they will want to follow the rules, because they will look intelligent in doing so. Brilliant. But then the Gospel comes in and speaks to us about how Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but fulfill it. Jesus himself says, “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.”
See sometimes I think we make Jesus into a person he was not because our faith can be much more comfortable that way. We decide that Jesus is too loving for anyone to go to hell, but yet Jesus speaks of hell. We decide that religion is not about rules, but about love. But Jesus speaks at length about the rules. We decide that if we are just a good person we will make it to heaven, but Jesus says to repent and believe in the Gospel. So sometimes we make up a jesus in our minds that there is really no biblical basis for. And I think that happens most when we talk about laws. Now of course, the Catholic religion is not about just blindly following laws for the sake of the law, Jesus condemned this idea too, but he also spoke of the importance of what the law does to our hearts.
Think about the discussion on adultery for example. Jesus says, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Here Jesus is calling the people out for obeying the letter of the law, they were not committing the act of adultery, but missing the entire point of the law itself, not to lust at all and to learn how to truly love. And notice what happens when we focus so much on the letter of the law as opposed to what it is trying to teach us. Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it was not so.”
When we focus on the letter of the law, when we reject the laws entirely, when we make Jesus into someone he is not, our hearts become hardened. We put up a wall between ourselves and the Lord. So how do we counteract this? I think one of the ways is to read through the Gospels. The more we learn about who Jesus really was and what he taught, the less tempted we will be to make him into someone he was not. Let’s pray for that grace today. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless!
Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and the Director of Faith Formation for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith. Contact Tommy at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his website at rodzinkaministry.com.
Feature Image Credit: Sean Foster, https://unsplash.com/photos/jrazH5W7niA