Gal 5:1-6; Ps 119:41-48; Lk 11:37-41
Another translation of Psalm 119 takes the text, “and I will walk at liberty” and renders it “you will set my feet at large.” Either way this verse invites us to reflect upon the freedom of the children of God to which we are called in our intimacy with Christ. We have let the mercy of the LORD flowing from the side of the wounded Christ to purify and nourish us. Indeed the blood of the Eucharist and the water of Baptism are constant reminders of the mercy that enables us to walk at liberty with our feet at large. This is the promise of salvation in Christ. In the law of Christ we place our hope, no one can take the word of truth from our mouths. We strive to keep his law continually, forever and ever. Over the years and by his mercy we begin to delight in his commands to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbor as ourselves. His commands become our delight, our love. By his mercy we lift up our hands to praise the Lord, and we lift up our minds to meditate on his statutes. As Saint Paul teaches his brothers and sisters in Galatia, so he teaches us: “For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” The Divine Teacher likewise teaches his fellow guests to pay attention to the one thing that matters, the inside—our hearts so that they may be cleansed of plunder and evil and filled with grace and glory. For this reason we are here, and we partake of the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one thing that matters for Saint Luke is that we sit at the feet of the Master and listen, that we are hospitable to the Word Made Flesh and dwelling among us. Saint Paul distills his good news in a similar fashion when he writes, “For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” The freedom to which Christ beckons us is the freedom of the children of God. We are to live and move and have our being in the Holy Spirit who enables us to love one another as the Father loves the Son and as the Son loves the Father. Such perfection in love is not merited nor earned by observance of the law. Indeed, the law was never meant to be a way to force God to make us holy. Rather, being holy is the fruit of an ongoing conversion in Christ of becoming one with the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus. Saint Paul has known in the depths of his own heart the frustration of trying to save himself. It is impossible. Indeed, no one can observe the entire law; no one can be righteous by his own efforts. We become holy by the mystery and grace of Christ overwhelming our weakness and vice, our sin and habits of sin, our darkness and desire to stay in the darkness. Saint Paul warned his community at Galatia not to return to reliance upon circumcision or any ritual or any law to save them. These outward manifestations of interior grace are not unlike the sacraments that we have so often misused and treated as magic or superstition. The Sacrament of the Church and the seven sacraments of the Church are grace filled encounters with the Risen and Glorious Lord Jesus Christ who alone can rescue ourselves from ourselves. Indeed, we wait in faith and in the Holy Spirit for the righteousness of Christ to transform us from glory to glory so that we can hope to live in faith and love.
The Pharisee was more than amazed; he was scandalized to observe that Jesus ignored the prescribed washing before the meal. Perhaps the Lord Jesus was trying to catch the attention of those at table to offer them another morsel of nourishment. The Lord Jesus challenged the Pharisees: “Although you cleans the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil.” Other translations call the content of the self-contented soul: “rapine and iniquity,” or “extortion and wickedness.” In their attention to the details of ritual purity the Pharisees neglected to seek purity of heart, that which is essential to living a truly holy life. The Divine Teacher instructs his fellow table guests about how foolish the Pharisees really are: “Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?” Then comes the wisdom of the interior life taught by our Savior: “But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.” Purity of heart, the cleansing of the soul, is accomplished when we are no longer self-focused, introspective, and self-absorbed. When we attend to the needs and cares of those around us, then we are made whole and holy, inside and out. We, too, are amazed that it is external behavior that purifies our internal being. Indeed, we are made holy by love. This is the one thing that matters.