3rd Wednesday of Lent–Take Care not to Forget

The Church offers us two readings today about the law.  In the Gospel Jesus tells the disciples, including you and me, that He hasn’t come to abolish the law but rather to fulfill it.  Of course the law he speaks of is the Mosaic law, or the Jewish law.  Many of His teachings run contrary to the Jewish beliefs and, of course, for us Catholic Christians, Jesus’ words take precedence.  But He makes it very clear that where He doesn’t contradict Jewish law, you and I are just as bound to it as our Jewish ancestors.

Modern-day Catholics are often critical, or at least confused by all the “rules” of the Catholic Church.  The Code of Canon Law is a huge book and much of it is beyond the comprehension of the average person.  “Canon Law” is a specialized field much like civil law.  Just as the average person understands what to do at a stop sign, most Catholics get the idea that we’re supposed to go to mass on Sunday (though the majority of them don’t).  On the other hand, civil contract law or the Church’s requirements for a valid and licit marriage are much more complicated.

Let’s get back to Moses for a minute.  In the first reading he tells us,

“Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the Land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you.”

Notice the spirit of the law.  It’s not about controlling anyone.  It’s about giving us the grace to live.  In Moses day the goal was the “promised land.”  Since Jesus, it’s about gaining a heavenly home.  Eternal life in paradise.

Moses goes on to say that if we observe the law carefully, we will give evidence of our wisdom and intelligence.  People will say, “This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.”

Isn’t that what people used to say about the United States?  Weren’t we considered a great nation?  Weren’t Americans looked up to as wise and intelligent people?  But, what happened?

The reading closes with these words,

“However, take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and your children’s children.”

I’m not here to talk politics. There are plenty of places for that.  But I also don’t believe you can separate a nation’s politics from it’s core beliefs.  This great nation has given up it’s place as the city on the hill.  The faith of our founding fathers is what gave us the system of government that has made us a great nation.  But somewhere along the way, we stopped listening to Moses’ words.  We have let what we’ve seen with our own eyes slip from our memory.  Worse, we’re not teaching it to our children and our children’s children as Moses and Jesus commanded us.

Lent is about 1/2 over.  Our Lenten glass is either half full or half empty, depending on your outlook.  I’d like to think that we have three weeks left to pray for any number of things.  Of course we pray for our own redemption, our own spiritual growth.  Let’s also pray for our fellow American Catholics; that those who have fallen away might come home and that those who have put their Catholic faith on the back burner, might rediscover the wonders of the faith again and show their wisdom and intelligence to all the nations.

 

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