Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Society...hypocritical about rules: Daily Mass Homily--Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

            Our society is hypocritically against rules, especially in Catholic moral teachings.  People cry out, “Stay out of my bedroom!” or, “It’s a woman’s right to choose [abortion]!” or, “Who are you to define marriage?!”
            At the same time, everyone recognizes that rules are good, and probably would never think otherwise.  Think about one of our passions: sports.  In basketball the rim is always ten feet off the ground.  It’s never twelve feet or eight and a half feet.  In hockey, you can’t pick up the puck, skate down the rink and throw it in the goal.  Sports are always governed by rules in order to set up the boundaries for a game.
            Other examples can be cited readily.  Traffic laws keep us safe.  School and playground rules keep our children out of harm’s way.  Basic principles of etiquette are maintained in hospitals, grocery stores and nearly everywhere we can go.
            In his book The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, Matthew Kelly asks us to consider the Ten Commandments—the most basic set of rules we Christians and Jews have.  He first asked what our world would be like if everyone made a simple commitment to follow the Ten Commandments regardless of religion or culture.  Wouldn’t our world be a much better place?  He also encourages watching the news with the Ten Commandments to see how many of them are broken.
            When it comes to the basic rules of the Jewish faith, Jesus specifies that he did not come to take them away: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.  I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”  Yet he did make an important distinction—rules are there for us to live well, not for us to live for the rules. 
            This became a problem in Jesus’ time.  The Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes were all about following the rules.  Yet they often did so without love or without understanding what the precepts were for.
            We may fall into the same trap.  How many of us think we are only as good as the last time we sinned?  Or that we must not do x, y or z and then we’ll be perfect?  That would be like a basketball player constantly thinking, “I can’t double-dribble!  I can’t double-dribble!  I can’t double-dribble!”  No good athlete thinks this way.
            Rather, we must focus on living well.  We must strive to love well.  We will fall because we are all sinners.  And when we do, we must be like a good athlete and shake it off (aka, ask for forgiveness, go to confession) and focus again on excellence. 
            Jesus came to fulfill the Law.  We ought to live it out in our lives, not slavishly checking off a list of don’ts, but by focusing on living well for God and others.

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