The Two Guardrails

for October 6th, 2014
Opt. Memorial for St. Bruno and Blessed Marie Rose Durocher

Liturgical texts here

Photo by Les Cunliffe



THE readings today could not be more timely for the opening sessions of the Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family. For they provide the two guardrails along the “constricted road that leads to life” [1]cf. Matt 7:14 that the Church, and all us as individuals, must travel.

St. Paul could not be clearer that the Gospel, which we have received, is not ours to tinker with, for “the Gospel preached by me is not of human origin.” [2]First reading When Jesus ascended into Heaven, He left explicit instructions as to the Church’s mission, to baptize new disciples “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” [3]cf. Matt 28:18-20

But there are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the Gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel  other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! (First reading)

Contrary to what more than a few seem to believe, the Pope and the bishops do not sit in Rome and manufacture doctrine.

The pope isn’t an absolute sovereign, whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary, the ministry of the pope is the guarantor of the obedience toward Christ and his word. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Homily of May 8, 2005; San Diego Union-Tribune

But it is from this necessity for obedience to Christ that a pharisaical spirit of fear has arisen at times in the Church—a spirit that empties the Living Word of charity and imposes it like a cattle prod rather than an invitation to authentic freedom in Christ. The missing ingredient is mercy.

When asked what he should do to inherit eternal life, Jesus in no way suggested that the law was a mere formality. He affirms that the commandments, summarized in love of God and neighbour, are essential:

…do this and you will live. (Today’s Gospel)

Guardrail One.

But Jesus then reveals the second guardrail that must accompany the law of God, demonstrated in the parable of the “Good Samaritan”…

…for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (Rom 13:8)

Guardrail Two.

Thus, the narrow way that Christ calls us upon is this: faithfulness to His Word by a childlike obedience that applies His commandments in a spirit of love and freedom and mercy. Jesus walks between these guardrails when He invites Zacchaeus to dine with Him, or when He picks the adulteress out of the dust, calling her to “sin no more.” Here, Jesus reveals that the truth never compromises, but mercy knows no bounds.

Love is not afraid to touch the sinner while always remaining faithful to the Father.




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1 cf. Matt 7:14
2 First reading
3 cf. Matt 28:18-20
Posted in HOME, FAITH AND MORALS, MASS READINGS and tagged , , , , , , , .