Sunday, August 30, 2015

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor

We have many expressions like: "It’s what’s inside that really counts" and "Don’t judge a book by its cover."

Essentially, they are saying the same thing. What comes from the deepest inner part of a person or thing is what is most true and most important.

In the Jewish scriptures, the law was sacred. It was the expression of and way to being in deepest relationship with God. It was considered wise. Following it meant that a person was in tune with God and "walking with God." Living the Law meant that lives would have order, meaning, be integrated, and that all would unite for the best purpose and in the best way possible.

So, says God in the word, "You shall not add to what I command you or subtract from it."

But over time, many things were written to interpret and/or apply the law. The trouble was that for many, these things became as important as the law itself. Living these interpretations became a way to appear important before others.

Jesus brings the whole discussion back to those Jewish scriptures. It’s what’s in the heart that really matters. Nothing that comes from "without" makes a person unclean. No. It is what comes from the deep recesses of the heart: evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance and folly.

St. Augustine once said: "Love. Then do what you will."

For him, that was enough.

If we truly love God, self and other — truly — it is hard to imagine that we will go wrong.

The little list mentioned only a few lines ago are the things that block love, distract love and center upon self in its least noble form. But the distortion of sin and corruption are at least checked by the great gift we have been given: baptism. Baptism invites us into waters of rebirth, and we put on a new self and we become disciples of the Lord.

In this we have new life. In this, we have an alternative to sin. In this, we follow and proclaim an other — the Lord.

The outer life which the law is meant to direct comes into harmony and resonates with the inner spirit of love which gives life — which is life!

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112, or email pleiker@stbernard-church.com.

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