Purpose Gives Peace
Saturday: Thirteenth Week of the Year: July 2, 2016
Year II: Amos 9:11-15; Psalm 85:9-14; Matthew 9:14-17
The Responsorial Psalm gives us a key to God’s word: “The Lord speaks of peace to his people” (Psalm 85).
In Amos 9: 11-15 the prophet reveals the goal God has in mind in calling people to live by his word: “I mean to restore the fortunes of my people…. They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them, plant vineyards and drink their wine, dig gardens and eat their produce.” In other words, “The Lord speaks of peace to his people.” The Responsorial Psalm continues: “peace for his people and his friends and those who turn to him in their hearts.”
God’s laws are a means to this goal. If we feel at times that they are burdensome, we have Jesus’ word for it that they are far less burdensome than life without them:
Come to me, all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.1
If we find God’s laws burdensome, it is because we are not looking at their goal, at what they aim at. If we seek to identify the purpose of every law God gives us, and observe each one in a way that achieves its purpose, we will find all of his laws life-giving, sources of joy and peace. Then we will say from experience, “The Lord speaks of peace to his people.”
In Matthew 9: 14-17 Jesus gives an example of this. The disciples of John the Baptizer were shocked because while they and the Pharisees’ disciples fasted, Jesus’ disciples did not. And they may have been asking, without saying it, why Jesus himself did not fast. Fasting went with being holy. Holy people fasted.
Jesus answered by asking why fasting is a means to holiness. What does it do? He made clear that we fast to feel physical hunger in order to recognize, experience and express our soul’s hunger for God — and specifically for himself as the “bridegroom.” While Jesus was physically with his disciples, they felt no need to fast.
Jesus went on to say he was changing the nature of all religious acts. The “new wine” of his new Way required “new wine skins.” 2
But since every nature is determined by its end, to change the nature of religion Jesus had to change its purpose. Jesus re-designed religion to make union with himself, his mind and heart — and with God revealed as Father and Spirit — the focus of every religious act we perform. Christian “morality,” and “asceticism” are not effective means to achieve the goal of personal union with God, because that is a pure gift of grace. But they remove obstacles, increase desire, and open our hearts to receive it. The “ministry of light” keeps us conscious of “how things work” in explaining every law.
Initiative: Give God’s life: Be a “priest in the Priest.” Express your heart to God in every religious act.
1 Matthew 11: 28-30.
2 Christianity is just called “the Way” in Acts 9:2; 18: 25, 26; 19: 9, 23; 22:4; 24: 14, 22.