Gal 5:18-25; Ps 1:1-6; Lk 11:42-46
We are summoned to delighted in the law of the LORD. Indeed, we are not to follow the counsel of the wicked; nor walk in the way of sinners; nor sit in the company of the insolent. Rather, we are to delight in the law of the LORD and meditate on his law day and night. We are like a tree planted in the rich soil; we are refreshed at the stream of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, religious life and the spiritual life in general still yield fruit in season and out of season. Our leaves never fade. Our efforts at renewal in the church continue to prosper. Unlike the wicked, who like chaff are driven away by the wind, the LORD watches over our ways, but the ways of the wicked vanish. Like Saint Paul taught his disciples to discern between the works of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit, so too, we are taught the wisdom necessary in every generation. Indeed, we struggle to live what we were taught; not like the Pharisees who imposed on people burdens hard to carry. With the intercession of all the saints who have gone on before us, we too can live and teach the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to all who have yet to hear about the true delight of every human being.
The wisdom of Saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians is heard even in our own day. When all attachments to the pleasures of life, whether sinful or not, no longer attract our hearts we can begin to detach ourselves from even good things of the flesh and the spirit, and become attached to God Alone. This is the true freedom of human life: attachment to God Alone. As the saints have taught us, we become what we love. To love God above all and to love neighbor as self enables us to enter into the Mystical Marriage, the Transforming Union with the divine spouse of our souls, the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing else holds any attraction for us and we gladly give ourselves over to the will of God and the praise of his majesty. Indeed, it is then that we inherit the Kingdom of God and begin to bear the fruit of the Spirit. Indeed, love, joy, peace, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control becomes our way of being in the world. Only then will the world, as we know it come to an end; only then will a new creation come into being. Indeed, we belong to Christ Jesus because we have crucified our flesh with its passions and desires. “If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit,” who leads us from glory to glory.
The Lord Jesus has a severe challenge for Pharisees in every generation. He shouts out “Woe to you Pharisees!” three times, and “Woe to you scholars of the law!” as well. They are to suffer genuine woe and great disaster because they pay attention to those things in religion that make them look good, but they do not use the ways of wisdom to inspire holiness and lead people to authentic lives of righteousness. This is the danger of religion in every generation. The use of religion to escape responsibility for lives of true holiness. The Pharisees are concerned with the minutia of religion but pay no attention to judgment and to love for God. The Pharisees, who are alive and well in our church today, continue to seek honor in religious gatherings and respectful greetings in public places. They long to be called holy and treated with respect long before they are truly holy. Indeed, they are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk. The scholars of the Law and of Theology also share the woe of the Pharisees, because they impose on the laity burdens impossible to carry, while they do not lift a finger to help them in their struggles. Religious experts in every generation take refuge in their well-constructed world of meaning and exclude the simple souls from any relief and delight. Indeed, they give themselves over to the liberation of everyone who seeks the LORD, however educated or sophisticated they may be. Holiness is not just for the professional religious; holiness is the call and expectation for everyone God has created in his own image and likeness. Indeed, we are created with the capacity to be filled with God and until then we are restless and empty.