Lydia Cristini


Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – September 27, 2015
Numbers 11.16, 17, 25-29 | Psalm 19 | James 5.1-6 | Mark 9.38-43, 45, 47- 48
September 14, 2015

Most of the time, the precepts of the Lord don't give joy to my heart. I realize this is because I'm not holy enough.

I suspect someone whose heart and will are truly united to Christ's really does experience joy when thinking about God's law.

I am not one of those people.

All of the "rules" Catholics follow are so out of step with our culture today that, to someone outside the Church, our choices can seem antiquated and unnecessarily restricted. Those choices might even seem incomprehensible. Why choose to deny yourself pleasures or luxuries most people don't even consider not having? Why choose to live a life ruled by "Catholic guilt"?

The ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. - Psalm 19.9

'The ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'

Psalm 19.9

There are some good reasons for this moral code, even from a purely secular perspective.

Most of the suffering and pain in the world comes as a result of someone breaking one of the Ten Commandments: the extensive damage to a person's life because of malicious gossip of a coworker; the devastation of broken relationships and families caused by marital infidelity; the Ponzi scheme that loses thousands of dollars for hundreds of people; the mass exploitation of people, and the pollution of the environment in less economically developed countries so we in North America can buy a T-shirt for $2.

If we all followed the Ten Commandments all the time, the world would be a much better place. It's almost as if when God gave us the Commandments to follow, he was wanting the best for us.

On top of this secular reasoning, we Christians have even more of a reason to try to live this way: God is love. Jesus reminds us that it's not about just following the rules: God wants our hearts.

That's what the life and "rules" of a Christian boil down to: Love. All we have to do to tell whether an action is good or bad is figure out if it's loving.

That's the trick of it though. The love that Jesus talks about is God's love: patient, kind, self-sacrificial, generous, a love that tells us sin is so destructive it is better to lose a hand than to continue sinning.

Love calls us to look not only to the good, but to the best. Therefore, it is necessary for us to become familiar with Christ and his teachings, and to develop a personal relationship with him in order to understand fully this love that should govern our decisions.

That's where following God's precepts can give us joy if we let it. If we really love someone, it makes us happy to know we're doing something they want us to do.

And we have the perfect Someone to please because this Someone is pleased by our being fully alive and fully ourselves. This Someone loves us more perfectly than we love ourselves.