August 23rd, 2022

The Gospel according to Matthew (23:23-26) 

Jesus said:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin,
and have neglected the weightier things of the law:
judgment and mercy and fidelity.
But these you should have done, without neglecting the others.
Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You cleanse the outside of cup and dish,
but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.
Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup,
so that the outside also may be clean.”


I don’t think anyone would say that Catholics don’t have enough rules.  We have “holy days of obligation”, rules about fasting before receiving the Eucharist, rules about getting married in a Catholic Church, and so on.

The important thing, though, is to recognize these various rules as something more like “guardrails” to help us stay on a path that leads us closer to God.  Truly, what God wants from us, His children, is that we see how important we are to our loving Creator, and how invested He is in our well-being.  He wants us to be as happy as we can be, and to share that happiness to everyone we meet.  If we focus only on the rules, however, we lose sight of the God we are trying to live in relationship with.

I’m a convert to the Catholic faith, as I think many of you may know.  The one thing I can tell you about Protestant Christian faith practice is that it really is only about one thing – your relationship with Jesus.  There are really few rules to follow.  Sure, it can feel very freeing, but I think our Protestant brothers and sisters are missing something without the structure we have in the Catholic Church.  We have the Sacraments as wonderful tangible reminders of God’s presence with us and inside us.  Through the mystery of the Eucharist, Jesus truly becomes present whenever we celebrate Mass together.

Let us not be people who are slaves to this rule or that rule. Let us live instead as members of God’s family, loving others as we go, and extending the same love and mercy and forgiveness that God has so kindly given to each of us.  And, if we fall short, let us ask for that mercy from God, and try to do better tomorrow!

Action for the Day:

Let us pray for those in authority in the Church: our Holy Father, Pope Francis, our bishops, and all those who guide us on the way that leads us to heaven.

If you would like to hear this reflection, click the link below! 

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