Catholic mass readings
October 17 Wednesday
When you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. When self-indulgence is at work the results are obvious: sexual vice, impurity, and sensuality, the worship of false gods and sorcery; antagonisms and rivalry, jealousy, bad temper and quarrels, disagreements, factions and malice, drunkenness, orgies and all such things. And about these, I tell you now as I have told you in the past, that people who behave in these ways will not inherit the kingdom of God. On the other hand the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control; no law can touch such things as these. All who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified self with all its passions and its desires. Since we are living by the Spirit, let our behaviour be guided by the Spirit.
The Lord said to the Pharisees: ‘Alas for you Pharisees, because you pay your tithe of mint and rue and all sorts of garden herbs and neglect justice and the love of God! These you should have practised, without neglecting the others. Alas for you Pharisees, because you like to take the seats of honour in the synagogues and to be greeted respectfully in the market squares! Alas for you, because you are like the unmarked tombs that people walk on without knowing it!’ A lawyer then spoke up. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘when you speak like this you insult us too.’ But he said, ‘Alas for you lawyers as well, because you load on people burdens that are unendurable, burdens that you yourselves do not touch with your fingertips.’
The scribes who were scholars and guardians of the law prided themselves in their meticulous observances of the laws of Moses. Their whole focus was on the minute details of the law rather than on the spirit of law itself. They worshipped the details of law instead of the Law-Giver-God. In our desire to be always right and perfect, we too can get trapped in this type of legalistic attitude of the scribes. We too can build up a righteous image of ourselves before God and others, and we too may begin to worship a demi-god of a scribe within us. Therefore, we have to be open to the spirit of God and allow Jesus’ teachings to demolish such self-image. What makes us children of God is not the law, but God himself. Do I view my Christian life as a simple relationship with God and my neighbour or as an unavoidable observance of many laws and regulations?