INSTRUCT US, LORD IN YOUR WAY
(SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 07, 2019)
Today's gospel story is a marvelous example of what can go wrong with religion. These Pharisees, who don't violate a single part of the law, are lacking in the heart of the spirit of what the law is there to support. They are judgmental and lacking in compassion or charity.
Jesus asks us to be merciful. It does not mean that Christ does not care about morality or obedience. Jesus' whole life and ministry was a lesson for us on how to respond to situations. The same law-abiding Pharisees were quite upset because Jesus "ate and drank with sinners." They were upset because He enjoyed the presence of sinners and he must have had a great time being with them.
The Pharisees would have argued that Jesus should have shunned these people and that His presence and care for these sinners seemed to condone their lives. These Pharisees didn't understand that love heals. Love forgives sin. And, love builds a community of love and mercy. Christ already made it clear from the beginning of His ministry that the reason why came is to save souls and bring sinners closer to God. For Him to carry out this mission statement of His, the manner of approach he uses matters. That approach is to welcome sinners and show them love and mercy not to hostile and too judgmental in His approach to them. This approach is quite different from that of the Pharisees and other religious leaders of His time.
Pope Francis calls us to be a community which builds bridges rather than walls, because this is what Jesus teaches us, with His words and example. It can be easy to think that "being religious" defines those who are "inside" and those who are "outside." Pope Francis is helping us hear Jesus' message that being religious defines those who are merciful and compassionate. The Holy Father tells us that mercy is evangelical. Being merciful shares the good news of God's mercy. It lives out our faith that God's mercy, shared with us in Jesus, is present in our own acts of mercy.
St. Paul writing on this mercy of God and Christ’s act reconciling us to the Father said “You once were alienated and hostile in mind because of evil deeds; God has now reconciled you in the fleshly Body of Christ through his death.
Therefore, let us give thanks for the love of our God who has reconciled each of us, in our own sinfulness, and remains our help and sustains our lives. Let us share that love, freely, generously. with growing compassion and mercy.
Let Us Pray: Lord Jesus, give us grace to love our brothers and sisters and be compassionate to them so that we will continue to do you will on earth.