July 6, 2018
(St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr)
The Prophet Amos said, “Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land! ‘When will the new moon be over,’ you ask, ‘that we may sell our grain, and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat? We will diminish the containers for measuring, add to the weights, and fix our scales for cheating! We will buy the lowly man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!'” Am_8:4-6,9-12
The Pharisees said to Jesus’ disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” Mt_9:9-13
Did you know that today is the 13th Friday of the Church Calendar? Boy I’m glad that we’re Catholic. Otherwise we might be worried about full moons and black cats, about walking under ladders and open umbrellas in the house; because, as Catholics, we don’t believe in superstitions that cause Fear for unfounded Reasons.
In the time of Amos the Prophet, the Israelites had lost sight of the Reasons behind their Sabbath fast and their new moon feasts. To them, all the precepts of the priests just seemed to prohibit the evil that was rooted in their hearts. Evils that were just aching to come out in their actions, like: cheating for selfish gain, taking advantage of the poor, always complaining, judging others, and never being satisfied. All because they forgot the God who created and cared for them.
You see beloved, the whole point of the Feasting and Fasting was to constantly remind them of the Goodness of God’s Law: to love God and their neighbor. Unfortunately, even today, we all still fight an internal battle to determine who is in control of our lives. Is it ME or is it God?
Do I really have ALL the answers?
And when I don’t, do I stoop to cheating and hurting others, to build myself up when things don’t quite go the way I want them to go?
Do I understand that it is not magic:
– that people act funny on full moons, that because black cats cannot be seen very easily at night, they CAN be pretty easy to trip over, that paint and hammers often DO get dropped from ladders, and that open umbrellas can poke eyes and knock over china inside a house?
When we can understand the fact that superstitious fear is simply the ignorance of a healthy respect for the experiences of those who came before us, then we can begin to understand the fact that God’s commands, and rules, and precepts weren’t given to inhibit, or suppress, or oppress us; they were given to bring us:
Freedom from the fear of the unknown,
Light in the darkness of ignorance,
and Lives filled with Joy and Peace and Hope.
And it’s that same Parental Care that Jesus was trying to teach the Pharisees.
You see, the sinners and the tax collectors who came to Jesus were longing and searching for the Mercy and Love that Jesus had to offer; unlike the judgment and condemnation that they got from the Pharisees; who, just like the Israelites in the time of the Prophet Amos, lost the Reason for the very Laws they were supposed to be embracing and teaching . . .
Where the true Reason for the Law was Love, and Mercy, and Healing, the Pharisees instead used that same Law to instill Fear through ignorance and selfishness.
You see, when the Book of Life is closed,
the Wisdom of its Word
will never find its true home.
But when we keep God in control of our lives, when we stay ever-present in His Word, through the Scriptures, when we use our Sunday sabbath to reflect on God’s love for us and our love for one another and when we live in the Grace of the Sacraments, then, not only will our lives be Free from fear, but we will become God’s “doctors for the healing of the soul of a very needy world.”
Thanks be to God in Christ Jesus,
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