Father Daniel Ray, LC
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Luke 11: 37-41
After Jesus had spoken,
a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home.
He entered and reclined at table to eat. The
Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe
the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said
to him, "Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the
outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are
filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not
the maker of the outside also make the inside? But
as to what is within, give alms, and behold,
everything will be clean for you."
Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are present here
as I turn to you in prayer. I trust and
have confidence in your desire to give me every
grace I need to receive today. Thank you for your
love, thank you for your immense generosity toward me.
I give you my life and my love in
Petition: Lord, grant me this grace
1. Law for the Law’s Sake:
The Mosaic Law was intended to free them for
worship, delivering them from slavery to pagan gods and
from slavery to sin. When the Law (and the
added customs and regulations) became an end in itself, it
was truncated and severed from the One to whom
it was meant to lead. Today in the Catholic
Church there are enough laws, customs and regulations to make
even the most rigorous Pharisee proud. The danger is
that we can fall into one of two traps.
First, we can adhere to them with such vigor that
we lose sight of the One they are freeing
us to worship. We don’t allow our hearts and minds
to be educated and formed by them, we just
follow them blindly. We wind up cleaning the outside
of the cup and stopping there, without going on to
see God’s love and let it purify our hearts.
2. The Second Trap: The second trap we
can fall into is at the other extreme: to
give ourselves an easy pass by presuming that “if
my heart is in the right place, I don’t need
to worry about all these rules and such.” With
a lax attitude we permit ourselves to ease up on
fulfilling these laws which in truth will free us.
“I know today is Sunday and I should go
to Mass, but it’s vacation! God knows I’m a good
person.” Yet it is in the Sunday Mass that
we receive the many graces necessary toward our being
that “good person”. The commandment to keep the Sabbath holy,
as with any of the Ten Commandments and customs
of the Church, is there to lead us to God.
These free us from our often confused subjective conclusions
about how we should worship God and live our
3. Cleaning the Cup: “Charity covers a
multitude of sin” (1 Peter 4:8). The law of
love is the most important of all the commandments of
the Lord. In Chapter 12 of the Gospel of
Mark, Christ responds to a scribe’s question about the
first of all the commandments: “The first is this: ‘Hear,
O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your
heart, with all your soul, with all your mind,
and with all your strength.’ The second is this:
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no
other commandment greater than these.” Love of God and
neighbor is both the source and the summit of
the Law of the Old Covenant and of the New.
Living these two greatest commandments purifies and cleanses our
hearts—the inside of the cup. So when Christ says
to give alms, he is telling the Pharisees to love
their neighbors. Then their hearts will be clean.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I
want my heart always to be focused on you.
I need your guidance, for I can’t do it
alone. I need you to teach me how to love
you, how to worship and serve you. The laws
you give me free me and guide me toward you.
Help me to see your hand leading me ever
closer to you.
there is a rule or custom of the Church
that I don’t understand or don’t practice, I will read
up on it to come to understand better how
it frees me and guides me in my relationship with