Monday, August 26, 2013

“It's not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It's what we do consistently.”

“When there is a tendency to compartmentalize the spiritual and make it resident in a certain type of life only, the spiritual is apt gradually to be lost.” ― Flannery O'Connor (Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose)

Gospel Text: (MT 23:13-22)
Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men.
You do not enter yourselves,
nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You traverse sea and land to make one convert,
and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna
twice as much as yourselves.

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say,
‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.’
Blind fools, which is greater, the gold,
or the temple that made the gold sacred?
And you say, ‘If one swears by the altar, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.’
You blind ones, which is greater, the gift,
or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it;
one who swears by the temple swears by it
and by him who dwells in it;
one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God
and by him who is seated on it.”

It is Gospel readings like this that really remind me that Jesus was God made man. We often think of him as a more mild-mannered, patient man, but Jesus was not afraid to tell it like it is.

Like all of us, he must have been frustrated, impatient and, yes, angry when he came across what he saw as injustice or hypocrisy. The scribes and Pharisees bear the brunt of his words in the readings. It’s a lesson we can learn from today. We can’t just pay lip service to the Gospel’s message. We have to live it. Sitting in church each week and dutifully filling out our offertory envelope with a check is not enough. Certainly, those things are part of our life in the church. But we have to live the Gospel. We can’t be blind to our obligations to live our lives both in church and outside of church with love and compassion. Jesus knows it’s not easy for us. We have busy lives filled with so many things. But we need to remember that our faith is not just something to check off on a list and move on to something else. We need to infuse our life with the Gospel and live it as best we can every day. One way to do that might be making a new list.

• Time for daily prayer

• Time for the people around me

• Time for less grumbling and more helping,

• Time for saying thanks to God for all we have

After all, if you can close and lock a door, it stands to reason that you can also unlatch one and throw it wide! That’s the awesome truth tucked away in today’s Gospel. We can actually open the door of heaven for other people!

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