The Gnat and the Camel

The Gnat and the Camel“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. [But] these you should have done, without neglecting the others. Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!” -Matthew 23:23-24

Do you sometimes feel that Catholics and Christians get hung up in minutia; that we have become the modern day Pharisees that Jesus admonished?  Often, we are so busy being better than others, that we miss the bigger picture. We tend to major in minor subjects!

It seems like righteousness has become a competition.

These “rulebook” Christians are quick to point out the smallest details of why we are doing something wrong and not following the rules. They’ve got a bible verse or a reference from the catechism to prove their point. They pay so much attention to these small details that they miss what we are called as Christians to do. They are perfectionist pointing out the worlds every imperfection.

If the scribes and Pharisees questioned Jesus about healing people on the sabbath, talking to a woman at the well, and healing a woman who dared to touch his robe, then, is it any wonder that that some Christians are accused of being narrow minded, hypocritical, and judgmental?

No one is safe from their criticism, including Pope Francis.

They criticize the pope when he washes the feet of women, children, non-Christians, and even prisoners on Good Friday, when the rules specifically state that it should be 12 men.

They question his thinking when he says, “Who am I to judge” when asked about homosexuality, as if he doesn’t understand the bible.

They bash the pope’s encyclical, Laudato Si’, pointing out that it’s alright to disagree because it is just his opinion and that he isn’t speaking on faith and morals.

And, that’s the Pope! They have got a finger pointed at everyone.

If we are to save our church from the decline we have experienced in recent history, we need to quit counting out the smallest seeds and start to look at the things that matter most, the weightier things as pointed out in Matthew’s gospel.

“One filled with joy preaches without preaching.” –Mother Teresa

We need the world to see the joy in our lives that comes from a deep relationship with Jesus, a joy that comes from humility, forgiveness, and gratitude.

Don’t get me wrong, these well-meaning Catholics aren’t saying anything that’s wrong, just as the Pharisees weren’t wrong. They were concerned that a gnat would enter their body so they strained everything they drank.

But, while they were obsessed with these lesser things, they missed the opportunity to deal with those things that enter the soul, the weightier things of the law, like Justice Mercy and Faithfulness.

This is what Jesus is asking us to do;

  1. Promote Justice. We need to defend the weak among us, the children, unborn, widows, and the poor. We need to stand up for the unemployed, the homeless, the sick, the mentally or physically challenged.

Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.” —Isaiah 1:17

  1. Show Mercy. We need to feel the pain and suffering of others. Then, we need to put that compassion to work. We can do that in many ways; from volunteering at the food bank, visiting those in the hospital, jail or prison, or praying for God to help them in their need.
  2. Turn our Faith into Faithfulness. Faith is something we have and faithfulness is putting that faith into action.

“So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” –James 2:17

Let’s stop swallowing camels and counting seeds and start focusing on the weightier things. Let people see they joy we have in our service to others; our sense of justice, mercy and faithfulness.

Then, “they will know we are Christians, by our love.”

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