A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Friday, July 16, 2004

The Paradigm of the Pharisees

Many of us are very serious about living a moral life and following “The Rules.” In today’s Gospel, we may secretly identify with the Pharisees and may be confused about what our Lord is saying. Does he mean that rules don’t matter? That it all depends on the situation? That anything goes?
In a word... no.
The Pharisees were operating under the paradigm of the Old Testament, in which a relationship with the Lord depended entirely on obedience to the Law of Moses. For a devout person, everything else in life is seen in relationship to the Law and the Law takes precedence over everything.
With the coming of Christ, the paradigm shifts. Christ is revealed as the ultimate prerequisite for a relationship with God. Everything else must be seen in relationship and subservience to Christ, even the Law.
We are not talking about situational ethics, where what is right and what is wrong changes depending upon the situation. This is a paradigm shift: a radically different way of looking at and living life based on Christ, the ultimate revelation of God, a new paradigm that will not pass away.
In this paradigm shift, Jesus is not overturning the natural law or the Ten Commandments. Notice that the cases put forward are matters related to ritual: the “bread of offering” and technical regulations concerning the Sabbath. What is right remains right and what is wrong remains wrong. Our salvation comes not from the Law but from Christ, from his grace that empowers our faith, a faith necessarily manifested in an objectively moral life.
Following the Rules is good, but following the rules in Christ is the only way to salvation.