Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary

Realize that it is those who have faith
who are children of Abraham.
Scripture, which saw in advance that God
would justify the Gentiles by faith,
foretold the good news to Abraham, saying,
Through you shall all the nations be blessed.

In his letters to the Galatians and Romans Saint Paul drew the sharpest possible distinction between a religion of faith and a religion of law. He saw in the crucifixion of Jesus that the religion of law had been scrapped. Only faith could fathom what the cross meant. Only faith could enter salvation through the doorway of the cross.

He surely understood that it is quite impossible to practice any religion without rules and traditions. How could one understand the cross without a deep appreciation of Jesus’ Jewish origins? Words like Messiah, Lord, and Anointed must be more than defined; they must be pondered through many years of life experience. They should be sung with gestures like prostration, genuflection and breast-beating; they should be consumed with the paschal lamb and the cup of atonement.

Saint Paul could not disagree with Saint Matthew’s teaching, “not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.”

And yet he insisted that the law which governed these religious practices was not enough. His faith is like the two-edged sword in the Letter to the Hebrews, or the sword that must pierce Mary’s heart. No one can escape that shattering sorrow in the practice of faith. If one’s religion promises to avoid pain, disappointment and grief it is not of God. If one’s religion permits complacency and supports feelings of superiority, it cannot be of Jesus. The Lord has promised us humiliation and disappointment. He insists, If they persecute me, they will persecute you as well.

Faith clings to the Lord; it intentionally hangs on his cross. Where religion may only unite a people in a common language and broad ethical agreement, faith challenges those agreements. It names the secret sins that are woven into the fabric of one’s language.  

Faith, because it is divine and not of human nature, does the unexpected. Its challenge cannot be foreseen or avoided. If there is a pattern it is simple: “It afflicts the comfortable and comforts the afflicted.”

The faithful are those willing to live with the unexpected, unpredictable demands of integrity, forbearance and charity. Our security is the insecurity of the cross; it is not-knowing what might next be expected and a readiness to answer “Here I am!” whenever and however we hear the call.

Where religion prefers the known, the sure and the familiar, faith sets out for the deep.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.