Joy in God's Law

for Friday, July 1st, 2016
Opt. Memorial of St. Junípero Serra

Liturgical texts here



MUCH has been said in this Jubilee Year of Mercy about the love and mercy of God toward all sinners. One could say that Pope Francis has really pushed the limits in “welcoming” sinners into the bosom of the Church. [1]cf. The Thin Line Between Mercy and Heresy-Part I-III As Jesus says in today’s Gospel:

Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.

The Church does not exist, as it were, to be some kind of a spiritual “country club”, or worse, a mere custodian of laws and doctrines. As Pope Benedict said,

So often the Church’s counter-cultural witness is misunderstood as something backward and negative in today’s society. That is why it is important to emphasize the Good News, the life-giving and life-enhancing message of the Gospel. Even though it is necessary to speak out strongly against the evils that threaten us, we must correct the idea that Catholicism is merely “a collection of prohibitions”. —Address to Irish Bishops; VATICAN CITY, October 29, 2006

And yet, I think there is a gap today in the Church’s missionary activity between the extremes of “mercy without the law” and the “law without mercy.” And it is the witness of those who proclaim not only the great joy in knowing God’s love and unconditional mercy, but the joy that comes from following His laws. Indeed, the world’s protagonists do a good job of painting the doctrines of the Church as stifling, fun-killing statutes. But in truth, it is precisely in living God’s Word that a soul’s thirst for peace is quenched and the bread of happiness is consumed.

Yes, days are coming, says the Lord GOD, when I will send famine upon the land: Not a famine of bread, or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the LORD. Then shall they wander from sea to sea and rove from the north to the east In search of the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it. (Today’s first reading)

It is hard not to read Amos’ prophecy and see its fulfillment in our day, for those who preach the fullness of the Good News are few and far between. And the Good News is not only that God so loved us that He sent His only Son to die for us, but that He has left us a means to abide in that love: His commandments.

If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. (John 15:10-11)

And this is why part of the Great Commission of the Church is not only baptizing and making disciples of the nations, but Jesus also said that it is “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” [2]Matt 28:20 It is precisely in these teachings of Jesus on marriage and sexuality, personal conduct, justice, service, and fraternity that we will find the means for our joy to be made complete.

I have been blessed to have witnessed the wedding of not only my Christian daughter, but of her friends. This generation of young people are marrying as virgins. The joy and peace at these williamsweddings is utterly palpable with a true sense and awareness of a Sacrament taking place. The vows are said with the heart and the kind of attentiveness and love that is the antithesis of a culture of lust. The Bride and Groom have waited for each other, and their anticipation and innocence is far from a sense of having been deprived, oppressed, or suffocated by Church law. It is romance in the truest sense. Their wedding speeches often include references to Jesus and the Faith instead of the all too common fare of risqué humor. The dances often last for hours with ballroom-style dancing and more wholesome songs. I remember speaking to one father who was stunned at the conduct of the young people. They were having a blast without getting drunk, and he couldn’t believe how much alcohol they were going to have to return after the wedding. As such, this new generation of young Christians are revealing the utter joy and beauty in following God’s commandments—as much as a rose, that follows the laws of nature, reveals a wonderful splendor.

Sadly, the world no longer has ears to hear the teachings of the Church. The pulpits have lost, for the most part, their moral credibility due to the scandals, modernism, and intellectualism that has dominated them the past fifty years. However, the world cannot resist the light of authentic Christian witness. Let us show the world the joy of purity. Let us reveal to them the happiness in fidelity, the peace in moderation, the restfulness and contentment in self-control. Recall again the wise words of Paul VI:

People listen more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and when people do listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses. It is therefore primarily by the Church’s conduct, by living witness of fidelity to the Lord Jesus, that the Church will evangelize the world. —POPE PAUL VI, Evangelization in the Modern World, n. 41

There is a famine today for the word of God. May our witness be the water that quenches the thirsty and feeds the famished.

P. Blessed are they who observe his decrees, who seek him with all their heart.

R. One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Today’s Psalm)



Love Paves the Way



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