Man, those Pharisees just didn’t get it. They were so busy prioritizing law over love and ‘measuring up’ over mercy that they couldn’t recognize salvation—even when it was right under their noses.
As much as I’d like to believe I have nothing in common with the legalistic persecutors of Jesus’s time, I fall into the trap of missing the forest for the trees on occasion.
As a revert to Catholicism, I began my journey back to Mother Church carrying many misconceptions about what being a faithful disciple looked like. I observed individuals who were, in my estimation, “good” Catholics, and believed that, to be holy, I had to pray exactly as they did, attend a particular Mass, and do specific things at precise times. Eventually, I learned that there are many different ways to legitimately and beautifully practice our Catholic faith. I realized that just because I didn’t share the exact spirituality of someone I admired didn’t mean I was a horrible Christian.
Even today, I can get sidetracked by a false “how to be holy” checklist. Somehow I hope that, if I can complete each task on my list, I will be made, as Saint Paul writes in today’s First Reading, “pure, holy, unblemished and irreproachable” to God. (Colossians 1:22) Thinking I can achieve salvation through my actions—even the good ones—flies in the face of Christ’s words in today’s Psalm, where He proclaims: “I am the way, the truth, and the life . . . no one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:2)
Jesus Himself is the only way to eternal life. I am not the Messiah. There is no magical checklist that will warrant my salvation, and I can’t get to Heaven by trying to be someone I’m not. Jesus Christ alone is The Way.
Each of us is called to our own personal encounter and relationship with the living God. This relationship will look quite different from individual to individual, even within the incredible graces of the Sacraments and Magisterial teaching. What a relief to be able to uniquely become who God is calling us to be!
Consider your walk with the Lord. Do you struggle to feel as though you measure up to your own—or someone else’s—standards for holiness? Ask Jesus to speak truth to your heart about His saving love for you.
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Heather Renshaw is a speaker, writer, and uplifter on a mission to love and serve God with her husband and five children in the unchurched Pacific NW. She loves a good iced coconut milk latte and the silence of the Adoration chapel. You can learn more about her here.