POUR OUT YOUR HEARTS BEFORE HIM FOR GOD IS OUR REFUGE
(MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 09, 2019)
St. Paul in the first reading of today rejoices in his suffering because he experiences the joy of being identified with Jesus even more fully, precisely because of his suffering. Paul while actually confined in prison -- catches the crucial dimension of Christian holiness and says "I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I am filling up what is lacking in the affliction of Christ on behalf of His Body, which is the Church."
One of the key features of Jesus’ ministry involved a struggle with certain elements within His Native Judaism. Jesus wanted a Judaism where the law served the people and where the observance of the law did not do more harm than good. God gave the law to heal, not to harm.
Many New Testament scholars note that Jesus’ challenge to the status quo was one of the key reasons for His arrest and subsequent execution. Likewise, Paul gave his life trying to open ancient Judaism to all the gentiles, who he was convinced God loved and wished to save. For his efforts, he encountered resistance from both his fellow Jews and the gentile population to whom he preached. Jesus and Paul offer us difficult examples of what we should do in the face of real resistance to our religious identity.
They would seem to push us to dare to encounter it rather than meekly walk away. It may mean an embarrassing moment at a meeting when we raise an objection to a particular decision. It may come down to our choice of friends, to our investments, to where we live etc. We need to be willing to encounter the odd reactions and the incomprehension
The message Jesus sends in the gospel of today is indeed relevant today. The central message is if we hurt people by following a law literally without attaching the spirit of the law in it, we actually break that law. Like Jesus, we need to worry about the impact on people of what we do rather than following the rules to the letter.
The rule and law of the society are important but then, we should not forget that the laws are made for the people not the people for the law and when the law which is made to protect people’s interests turn out to be detrimental to their lives and well-being, such law stands to be reviewed or even abrogated. Christ indeed manifested this very attitude during His earthly ministry. Christ Himself attests to the fact that the law is important but then, shows the people how to keep and observe it for the good of all whom the law was made for. Time after time we see Him saving people from legal purists.
The woman about to be stoned for adultery comes instantly to mind. Jesus calls us to be compassionate to people of all backgrounds as He was. On judgment day, the Jesus who defied the rule police to cure on the Sabbath is not going to ask us to recite rules or quiz us on theology or on the constitution of the land but on the rule of love, on the theology of love and on the constitution of love.
The question would rather be on how we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, take care of the sick, the abandoned, the aged, the less privilege etc. Those are the “rules” that we who call ourselves Christians should take literally.
Let Us Pray: Lord Jesus, give me grace to do good always and to use the gifts you have given me to bring glory to your name. Amen.