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, October 29, 2004

Rules getting in the way

In today’s Gospel, our Lord confronts those who condemn him for healing sick people on the Sabbath, but they refuse to discuss it, even when he actually heals a sick person or tries to reason with them.

For some people, nothing is more important than rules and they hold onto these rules like grim death. To let go of rules, they feel, would be chaos.

For other people, rules are meaningless and to be ignored. To follow rules, they feel, would be oppression.

For still others, rules are generally useful and they follow the rules as long as it is convenient for them. To be locked into the rules, they feel, would be inconvenient.

But what are rules? In a fundamental sense, a rule represents a formal understanding of how behavior reflects a truth.

Rules can also be a means of protection for individuals and for society.

The Pharisees and the scholars of the law were focused solely on the formal manifestations of the rules: afraid to consider the truth underlying those rules or to grow in their own understanding. Even today there are people for whom the rules are just a club with which to beat themselves and others (and these people often don’t have a deep or detailed knowledge of the rules to begin with).

Ironically, those who are disdainful of rules are also generally afraid to consider the truth underlying those rules or to grow in their own understanding. They also fail to appreciate how the formalities of rules – including the formalities of rewording rules – may be associated with respect for the community to which they themselves belong – which is even more important when the community is a community of faith, charged with transmitting the saving truth of Christ.

We as Christians must respect our community of faith, working within it to achieve in the rules an ever clearer understanding of the truth they signify.

We as Christians need to consider the truth underlying rules and how our behavior should be consistent with the truth that comes from God: a truth to which we must cling, a truth that can set us free.