Commentary on the Gospel of
This is my third attempt to write this reflection and I hope it is the charm, as it is past due. During my first attempt, love and rules were competing and it didn’t end well for love so I deleted it. My second attempt was a little harsh towards the Pharisees, so that too got tossed.
So, I came back to love. What Paul and Jesus are trying to help us understand is that love is much more important than being consumed by rules. Following rules are important, but when rules become our top priority, they often get in the way of love.
As some of you know, both my beloved mother and mother-in-law passed away within a month of each other recently. What struck me most about the stories people told me were ones about their loving kindness. One young woman who had no one in her corner told us how Elaine (my mother-in-law) mothered her. She believes she is becoming a good mother due to how loved she felt by Elaine. “She changed the course of my life and I will never forget her.”
Dorothy sometimes dropped by unexpectedly at my house. We weren’t really friends, but she kept showing up. At my mom’s wake, she confided that my mom always "was glad to see me." She always left our house feeling better about herself. Another girl who lived on my street was sometimes bullied by others at school. Eileen also visited our house, often with her head down. She always left with her head held high. I remember one time walking home from school when she seemed very down. So, I reminded her to think about what my mom told her which caused her to stand up straight and smile. My mom explained what was said stayed between Eileen and her, but she was glad I reminded Eileen of her words.
We want to be good…to be good Christians. But sometimes we forget the reason Jesus came. He didn’t come to give us a new set of rules. Jesus came to teach us a new path, a new way of living. However, following rules can often seem a much easier path to God. We think: If we do X or Y or Z, we are good people and we will be loved more by our God. But that’s not how it works. Jesus wants us to follow God’s commandments, but not at the cost of our ability to love our neighbors.
So, as Shakespeare said, I have “something to expiate.” What ‘rule’ separates me from God? What rule keeps me stuck and prevents me from trusting God and loving my neighbor? God wants me to focus the limited time I have here on using my gifts to help build God’s kingdom. God is not looking for efficiency or perfection, just someone who loves God and their neighbors more than their reputation.
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