The Church of Saint Agnes

1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

The Church of Saint Agnes
1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

Saint Agnes School | Contact Us

15th Week in Ordinary Time

Date: 
Fri, 07/21/2017
Author: 
Rev. Msgr. Donald Enzweiler

God said to the Israelites, to the descendants and children of Jacob:
“I will be your God; and I choose you to be My people.  I will protect you and show you favor.
And since I’m the one who has the power here, I will make the rules.”
He then gave them 10 Commandments, 10 laws.
“By following these” God told them “you will show to me your faithfulness.
If you don’t follow them, then you have violated our agreement.
And I will take the necessary action to correct you and/or punish you until you return to my ways.”
 
When God gave His people the 10 Commandments
He wasn’t being arbitrary.  He wasn’t being indiscriminate.  He wasn’t being tyrannical.
He was concerned about the goodness of His people
and wanted them to live a life that would bring happiness and peace.
He wanted them to remain in loving communion with him.
 
Over the years, as questions and concerns were raised by unforeseen, unplanned circumstances
religious leaders found it necessary to clarify, to define, to promote certain understandings,
to add explanations, to keep a database, if you will, of interpretations
that allowed them to apply the law with fairness and consistency.
 
By the time Jesus came along, after at least 6 thousand years of time and history,
the 10 Commandments had been expanded to 613 laws.
 
The Pharisees in today’s Gospel confront Jesus regarding one of these 613 laws…
for he does not correct his disciples when they “work” on the Sabbath.
Picking heads of grain off of stalks still in the field was to engage in the act of harvesting.
The harvesting of grain on the Sabbath was prohibited.
 
In some cases there were exceptions about working on the Sabbath.
A person could “work” to save one of his animals that was in danger of dying or being killed.
If, for example, the animal was sinking in a mud hole, the owner could work on the Sabbath
to get it out without fear of violating the law and incurring a punishment.
However, the laws regarding ritual purity did not allow a person to “work” on the Sabbath
to save a human being who was considered to be impure, unclean.
 
Over time, some of the original purpose of the laws was lost.
Some of the developed details of law no longer promoted goodness, happiness and peace.
They no longer promoted the means of attaining a right relationship with God.
 
Jesus came to reveal the truth of how God wants his people to live….
to restore and re-establish a proper covenant between God and His people.
In essence, the law became God.  To love and follow the law was to love and follow God.
Law is necessary for governance, for guidance, for maintaining peace and order.
But the law isn’t God.  The purpose of life is not to follow the law.
The purpose of life is to enter into and remain in a loving relationship with God.
There is nothing of greater value.
An essential component of a loving relationship with God is the sacredness and value of human life.
Law without compassion and mercy turns into oppression and tyranny.
 
Jesus is not anti-Torah or anti-Sabbath.  He never says “let’s do away with all the laws, get rid of them.”
There are acceptable reasons to have and obey laws….reasons having to do with
promoting the goodness of humanity, having to do with contributing to human happiness and peace
as these are grounded in the divine order of things.  The law has its place.   But the law isn’t God.
 
Today’s prayer:  “O Lord, You have ordered the universe according to Your divine will. Help us to know this order, respect this order and promote this order with sound minds and loving hearts.  Amen!”