Many people see the Ten Commandments and the Laws of the Church as impediments to freedom. Even the Beatitudes do not seem to make sense. But if we could change our perspective and see them as gifts from God, we might get a better understanding and change our altitudes. In our fallen state, we have lost a good part of our ability to see common sense. For example, it is becoming harder to discern on a cognitive level why homosexual marriages are not natural. Even more abstract is our teaching on contraception. But the gifts of these teachings, laws or commands do bear a much deeper significance. They direct us in a way that respects the proper use of our nature so that we can repair or better cope with the demands of our fallen nature. Moses, who lead a stiff necked people, could see the common sense of God’s gift of the commandments and other statues that made the Israelites a people set apart from all the other nations in such a way that they could be admired by the less civilized nations around them. This difference, with the refinements of Jesus and his Church, developed a civilization that evolved into a culture of science and literature which has benefitted billions of people. Moses points out that while these laws are not too mysterious or foreign to our nature, we still choose to spurn them despite their common sense. The Psalm reflects how the Law of the Lord refreshes the soul and how trustworthy it is and how filled with wisdom even for the simple it is. But still most of us just do not get it.
The Gospel talks of the secret of how to love God. First of all, Jesus tells us that if we love Him, we must keep His commandments. That is, the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes and the Commandments of the Church. With this in mind, Jesus now refines the Jewish teaching of love of God (Lk10:27) and adds to it love of neighbor as an essential dimension in loving God. He says that both these commandments, not only one, hinge upon themselves. Many Christians believe that they can “go directly to God” and so they can, but it is not enough. We do not know much about God unless we begin to see Him in our neighbor. Being made in the image and likeness of God bears much significance. In seeing that Divine Image in our neighbor, we come to understand more precisely who exactly God is. The teachings of the Church help us to keep this in perspective so that we do not loose the balance because all the images of God in our lives are still not perfect, but they are perfect enough for God to love each and everyone of us.
The parable of the Good Samaritan bears this out. Remember the Samaritans from last week’s Gospel rejected Jesus because he was going to Jerusalem where the “perfect” Jews lived. In the parable, it is the “perfect” Jews who pass the wounded image of God on the road – for religious reasons! Their great knowledge of the Truth makes them feel that they can possess the Truth, but the reality is that we must be possessed by the Truth. It is too big for us to contain because it is God Himself. In our limited human capacity and our fallen nature we cannot absorb God, but God can absorb us. When we think we know it all, we can easily not see the value of the images of God around us because we think we are more or less “perfect” than those around us. This mentality makes it easy for us to “check on” our unborn to see if they are suitable for birth or to blow up people who do not share our religious views because we are more “perfect” than them. Not respecting the image of God quickly leads to violence especially when it conflicts with our own lifestyles. But God’s common sense commandments, laws and teachings remind us of what is really Truth. The religious leaders in the parable pass by an image of God to let him die. Death, the product of sin, is the Devil’s temporary victory – except for those who do not keep God’s common sense rules. The less “perfect” man has compassion for the dying man because he is more possessed by the Truth than the ones who think they possess the Truth. It is ironic that the one who teaches the Truth, and can actually bring people into Eternity, can himself loose Eternal Life! Yes, what we think of our faith can be tricky business. Perhaps that is why Jesus says that He is meek and humble of heart.
You might recall that I took a survey on moving permanently the Saturdayevening Mass to 4 PM. Only one person felt that we should keep the present routine of changing the time around Day Light Savings Time. One suggested4:30 PM. Ten voted for 5 PM. 35 voted for keeping the Mass at 4 PM. It looks like the sentiment of the parish is for the Saturday evening Mass to become permanently 4 PM. When we push back the time for the Mass in the fall to 4 PM, I will keep it at 4 PM permanently.
I am deeply grateful to all the volunteers who made the Mega 50/50 Raffle possible. It netted over $25,000 for the church!
I am grateful to all those who are mowing our lawns. It is not only saving us money, but it is also making our parish look better. If there are any more people who would like to assist, please call the rectory and we can put you on the schedule. Thanks also to those who are keeping up the plants around the property. It is much appreciated!