Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Twelvth Sunday after Pentecost—27 August AD 2017
Ave Maria!

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English

Please pray for Alfie Evans, 14 Months old ,
another hostage of socialized medicine in Britain.


Faith and Works; the Spirit and the Law

“Master, what must I do to possess eternal life?”

            Sometimes, when we read St. Paul, it is easy to be misled into thinking that he is telling us that since the Redemption, we are no longer bound by law, or that what we do is unimportant as long as we believe in Christ.  For example in today's epistle, he tells us that “the letter killeth, but the spirit quickeneth.”  Modernists have taken Saint Paul’s words out of context, and often teach that nothing is necessary but to love one another—and they usually spell love, “L-U-V.”  Suffice it to say, this is a completely false notion.

    When Saint Paul refers to “the Law,” he is not referring to the Commandments, but rather to the elaborate ritual prescriptions of the Law of Moses.  Certainly we must keep the Ten Commandments—we would have to keep them even if God hadn't given them to us, because they are simply what is required to conduct an orderly society and to properly honor our Creator.  They spell out what we call the “Natural Law.”

    Rather, Paul is reacting to the distinctively Jewish observances of the Law;  things like the dietary laws, or restrictions on how far one could travel or what one could do on the Sabbath, or how one should dress.  Even more to the point, Paul is reacting to the exaggerated practices of the Pharisees, who made a great spectacle about keeping the outward prescriptions of the Law.  For example, we know that the Law prescribed “always keeping the word of God before one's eyes.”  We would take that figuratively, interpreting it to mean that we should always be guided by His word, or perhaps that we should read the Bible regularly.  The Pharisees took it literally, and wore a leather container on their foreheads; a small box containing a few words of scripture!

    Now, there is nothing particularly wrong with these external, ritual observances of God's Law.  The reason why Saint Paul speaks of them as the “dead works of the law,” or says that “the letter of the law kills,” is that the Pharisees tended to do nothing more than ritually observe the externals of the law, while not being motivated by Faith, Hope, and Charity;  they wore the right outfits and recited the right prayers, but were not motivated by sincere, inward belief in God, nor by the love of God, nor by trusting God to enable our salvation.

    The lawyer mentioned in the Gospel was looking for some external ritual that he could perform to “possess eternal life.”  And, when our Lord put the question back on him, he already knew the answer; that he “must love the lord God with heart and soul and strength and mind,” and that he “must love his neighbor as himself.”  But then he demonstrated that he had no idea how to put these words into practice by saying, “But who is my neighbor.”

    The lawyer was looking for some ritual he could perform, or perhaps some prayer he could say once in the morning and once at night in order to live forever.  And, he may well have expected that living for ever meant earthly immortality.  What he didn't have in mind was the idea of loving God and consequently the other people God placed on earth.  To the lawyer or the Pharisee, God was someone to be placated with sacrifices and rituals; not someone to believe, and to trust, and to love.

    I would hope that you all can see that there is a real danger that all of us might fall into same kind of habit.  How many people come to Mass, only because they perceive it as a necessary ritual, a legal requirement for staying “out of sin,” but would never dream of attending an extra Mass or two during the week just because they love God?

    And, its not just the marginal Catholics that fall into this trap.  How many times have you heard people reciting the prayers of the Rosary, and sounding like a rapid-fire machine gun going off?  Hard to believe that they are meditating on “the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord.”  Wouldn't they be better off if they just took a few more minutes to add some real devotion to what they were doing?  To actually meditate on the individual mysteries?  Even if they had to pray a few decades less?!

    And certainly we are all guilty of ignoring the needs of people.  We are probably all willing to whisper a prayer for them, but what about helping them with their physical needs?  What about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, and so on?  What about at least listening patiently and assuring our neighbors that their concerns are important to us, and that they do have friends who care about them?

    Saint Paul and our Lord are in no way against observing the Law, nor are they against observing the rituals of our Faith—but they do insist that we do something more—that all of those observances be grounded in genuine, internal, love and belief and trust in God—and that, for the love of God, we love our neighbor as ourselves.



Dei via est íntegra
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