Posted by: fvbcdm | February 15, 2013

Feast of Saint Claude de la Colombiere (15 Feb 2013)

Those who study the way religions are constructed know that there are three basic elements in all religions throughout human history. They are sometimes called “the three C’s” —creed, code, and cult. Creed refers to what we believe (there is one God; there are three persons in the one God; the second person became man and we call him Jesus Christ, etc.); code refers to how we behave in this life (you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not commit adultery, honor your father and mother, etc.); and then cult refers to how we worship God and express our love and gratitude to him. This varies greatly, from the great solemn Masses in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome to the sitting in silence in a totally bare room as the Quakers do.  

During these early days of Lent, we read at Mass from the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus sets forth his code: the moral law of the New Testament—how the Christian is to live. And he makes the surprising statement: unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter heaven. The scribes and Pharisees were the most observant of the Jewish people of the time. They knew the more than 600 rules and regulations of the law of Moses and kept them scrupulously. So those who heard what Our Lord said that day must have wondered: how many more laws does he want us to keep? since they thought of virtue in terms of keeping rules and laws. It’s not a question of more, but rather less.  We Christians have far fewer regulations than our Jewish brothers and sisters have. What Jesus means is that the smug keeping of laws in itself does not make a man holy; it is his love of God and neighbor.  During Lent, we do not eat meat on Friday. That’s fine; it is a form of self-denial and a reminder that we must curb our unruly appetites. But that alone will not make us holy. Loving God and our neighbor will. And as Our Lord told us at the end of the Sermon on the Mount: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. THAT will make a man holy. Let’s think of this often during this holy season of Lent.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.     

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