Recently while I was walking down Hart Street I saw a bunch of kids over by Papergoods Pond and some of them looked familiar.
So I mustered up my courage and I walked right up to them.
I had it in my mind to walk by if none of them said hello or gave any sign that they recognized me.
All of a sudden one of the kids who was confirmed last year looked up and said Hi fr. Robert and the door was opened for me to strike up a conversation.
We bantered for a while about a bunch of stuff, then we got into a rather heated discussion about football and if Berlin could beat Xavier.
Then the conversation took another turn when out of the blue the Confirmation Kid said “I know I haven’t been to Church for a while.”
“A while” I said with a chuckle “I haven’t seen you since Confirmation…”
He nodded with a sheepish grin and responded, “Isn’t it enough to be a good person? I’m a good person I don’t hurt anyone.”
I told him I knew he was a good person and that’s very important but that God wants more for him.
God’s law says keep holy Sabbath.
Catholic do that by going to Mass..
I went on to explain that we can’t change God’s law.
We can’t add to it nor can we subtract from it.
All we can do is discern God’s law and follow it.
That’s exactly what the first reading is speaking about today.
God gave the Israelites His law so that they could take possession of the land… for the Jewish People that was the promised land and let me tell you it looked good after 40 years in the desert.
For us the promised land is heaven.
The Law, God’s law guides us to heaven.
That’s the purpose of God’s law.
It is not to enslave us, or take away our fun.
It is not so God can win and have his way.
It is not to give the priests or the Church power over us.
God’s law was given to us so that we might live a good and holy life and when our time on earth is finished end up in heaven.
Pure and simple
But then one of the other kids piped up and said what about all those people who go to church every Sunday but just go through the motions.
And I told him that he had a good question.
While it’s very important to follow God’s law it’s not enough to go through the motions.
There also has to be a change of heart.
When we surrender ourselves to God’s law it has to change our heart.
That’s what Jesus was talking about in today’s Gospel.
Sometimes people who just go through the motions of following God’s Law do more damage than those who don't follow it at tall
The Pharisees observed the letter of the law and all the minute prescriptions but they never changed their hearts… they were still angry, bitter, merciless people.
At another place in the Gospel Jesus compares them to whitened sepulcures beautiful on the outside but rotten on the inside.
In the end even though they followed all of the prescriptions of the law and washed their dishes the right way, the pride, jealousy, and anger of the Pharisees pushed them to plot against Jesus
My conversation with the kids at Papergoods Pond ended on a cordial note and I moved on..
I have seen them a couple of times since roaming around town.
A couple of days ago a whole bunch of them were sitting outside of Stop and Shop on those picnic tables and they waved to me before I waved to them...
How often do we ask the same questions as those kids.
One day a woman was said to me “come on fr. Robert the Church has to get with the times you guys gotta be more open and change all those rules.” as if God’s law is ours to change.
There’s a name for Catholics like that they are called them cafeteria Catholics… picking and choosing what they feel is important or convenient and leaving out the rest.
Let me assure you Robert’s law will not get you into heaven nor will it give you a better quality of life.
Only God’s law so us the way to the promised land only God’s Law.
How often do we allow ourselves to sit back on our laurels and say things like..
I keep the law.
I go to Mass
I don’t hurt anyone,
but still allow ourselves to be angry or bitter or to think we are better than other people just like the Pharisees.
No God’s law is not ours to change the only thing that we can and must change is our lives and our hearts.
When it comes to God’s law our only choice is to be faithful… no matter what the rest of the world is doing.
Help us love and help us live your Law O Lord