I entered the Catholic Church as a young adult after a self-imposed exile from my childhood faith. When I told a friend of my decision, a furrow appeared between her eyebrows. “That seems like such a strange choice,” she mused. “I guess many young people are looking for more structure and ritual in their lives these days.” How could I convince her that my choice wasn’t about ritual or structure but about where Jesus was leading me?
Deciding to follow Jesus puts us at odds with the culture around us. At a time where moral relativism is the law of the land, we have chosen a path clearly marked “this is the way, walk in it.” When we debate objective truth with skeptics, some defensiveness is natural. Our frustration with the slippery slope down which so many of our acquaintances are sliding can make us want to dig in our heels and drag people back up onto the straight and narrow.
The trouble with this approach is that any of us could slip at any moment. As Jesus warns His disciples in today’s reading from Saint Matthew, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”
The Law was everything until Jesus came. In His Kingdom, though, the Law is only part of the equation. If we are practicing faith solely by the Law, we can never do enough. It’s Love that saves us, not the Law . . . and we’re not going to save anyone else by the Law, either.
When we encounter people who don’t understand why we follow Jesus, imposing the Law on them is not likely to convince them. We don't depend on our own goodness. As Saint Paul wrote in today's First Reading, "Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." It is Jesus—and being face to face with Him—that transforms us. A deep and abiding love for Jesus enables us to take right actions that follow the Law and make it live in our hearts, but it also draws others to Him. As we practice our faith and do what is right, let’s remember that no moral checklist or behavior guideline can bring the freedom found in knowing Jesus Christ. A real encounter with Jesus can truly change someone. Our hope is in the One who can heal the world, one heart at a time.
Go to Adoration today or this week. Make time to sit with Our Lord.
Abbey Dupuy writes her life as a homeschooling mama of four frequently barefoot children. She muses about imperfect parenting, practicing gratitude, and celebrating the liturgical year with her young family on her blog. In her spare time, she enjoys running, gardening, coffee, and cookbooks, not usually at at the same time. You can find out more about her here.