Jesus often spoke in parables to his Disciples and the others who followed Him, but He rarely left those who truly wanted to understand without an explanation. Today's Gospel is one of His many parables and an unsettling explanation, one of those that really alienated Him from the leaders of the Jewish culture.
."Therefore, I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit."
Since my exploration of the Gospel of Matthew through the Beatitudes, I have started to really take notice of how often Jesus pointed a finger at the scribes and Pharisees of the time, the religious leaders, and warned them that they were not following in their hearts as they had been called to. They were not being mindful as they followed the rules.
Religion and faith is not just about rule-following and being "a good Christian". So often, we get caught up in being members of that good person club for the image and status it brings. We feel good about ourselves and our decisions, enabling ourselves to judge and condemn, all while patting ourselves on the back because we made it Mass on Sunday and didn't eat meat last Friday. The rules given to us by a loving God are to help us develop a relationship with God can sometimes overpower what really matters: we've been really called to a personal relationship with God.
I missed Mass two weeks ago because we were out of town with friends. Last Sunday was an ongoing debate if I should even bother going, after all, I hadn't made it to Confession yet and I "couldn't" receive Communion without first going to Confession. Does God really care about that ultimately? That I haven't made it to Confession yet? I don't believe that's what God wants; for us to decide to separate ourselves from God just because haven't complied with each little rule. There's more to church communion and there is more to religion than the rules.
Today, hell with the rules. Make today about a relationship with a God who loves you, who wants only the best for you. Plants that are lovingly cared for will bear the best fruit; care for your relationship with God! Pray for the grace to produce fruit as a Child of God. Fast from your to-do list, your requirements, your rules. Don't stress about the rules given to us, but focus on making what you do for God. Give God your heart today. Don't even worry about those around you, that will come in time. Strive towards a relationship with God and that will enable you to give to others like never before. The scribes and Pharisees greatest downfall was that they followed the rules for the sake of the rules, not the sake of God.
Pray for grace, fast from the rules, give God your heart.
There's more about that tricky "Cool Christian Club"
Happy St. Patrick's Day! Many bishops in the US have given dispensations to their dioceses to eat meat today in celebration of the feast day. Check your diocesan webpage to see if you are one of them.