If there is a rule or custom of the Church that I don’t understand or don’t practice, I will read up on it to come to understand better how it frees me and guides me in my relationship with Christ
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are present here as I turn to
you in prayer. I trust and have confidence in your desire to give me every grace I need to receive
today. Thank you for your love, thank you for your immense generosity toward me. I give you my life
and my love in return.
Petition: Lord, you call me not just to a conversion of exterior actions and
ways of living, but to a conversion of heart, a conversion of always loving more. Ggrant me this
grace of conversion.
1. Law for the Law’s Sake: The Pharisees placed great emphasis on fulfilling
the Mosaic Law down to its last iota. They also had many more customs and regulations to ensure that
they were properly fulfilling the Law—layer upon layer of laws to enforce laws. Their mental
checklist of laws fulfilled and regulations completed was impressive and a source of pride and
satisfaction that they were living as they were supposed to. But they were missing the point. The
Mosaic Law was intended to free them 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. Today in the Catholic Church
there are enough laws, customs, and regulations to make even the most rigorous Pharisee proud. The
danger is that we can fall into one of two traps. First, 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 and let it purify our hearts.
2. The Second
Trap: 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. “I know today is Sunday and I should go to Mass, but it’s vacation! God knows
I’m a good person.” Yet it is in the Sunday Mass that we receive the many graces necessary toward
our being that “good person”. The commandment to keep the Sabbath holy, as with any of the Ten
Commandments and customs of the Church, is there to lead us to God. These free us from our often
confused subjective conclusions about how we should worship God and live our lives.
3. Cleaning the
Cup: “Charity covers a multitude of sin” (1 Peter 4:8). This is how St. Peter rephrased the
words of Christ, “But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for
you.” 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 hearts—the
inside of the cup. So when Christ says to give alms, he is telling the Pharisees to love their
neighbors. Then their hearts will be clean.
Conversation with Christ: 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 teachll 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 ever closer to you.
Resolution: If there is a rule or custom of the Church that I don’t
understand or don’t practice, I will read up on it to come to understand better how it frees me and
guides me in my relationship with Christ.