As we get older, it become more difficult to look at issues from a different perspective than our usual take on any specific issue. Just as changes in our routine are difficult to navigate, changing one’s mind is a formidable task.
In the Letter to the Galatians today, St. Paul is urging the Jewish Christians to look at the issue of circumcision from a different perspective. The issue caused deep division in the early faith community. Such divisions are not a hallmark of a particular time in history. They are, some might say, inevitable. Put twenty people in a room and you likely come up with twenty different opinions.
St. Paul’s answer to this division is to ask the Christians to place emphasis on the freedom won for us by Christ through his death on the cross. Just as he acted out of love for us, we are to act out of love for others.
The Pharisee in today’s Gospel is another example. Jesus fails to observe the prescribed ritual washings before reclining for the meal. Like the Galatians, his mind is occupied with the constraints of the Law and custom. Jesus asks him to be more concerned with purifying his mind of such thoughts and focus on God’s mercy.
The Eucharist is a reminder of God’s abundant mercy in our lives. All of us are vulnerable because we are all in need of cleansing. Christ is present in our midst and offers us a new way of looking at God’s mercy and how we are to live it out in our lives.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator