Galatians 5:18-25; Psalm 1:1, 1-2, 3, 4+6; Luke 11:42-46
Today’s readings are easy to skim, but hard to read carefully. When we scan the first reading, we can see a list of things Paul tells the Galatians to avoid.
“Immorality, impurity, licentiousness.” We might be relieved to cross those off our mental list of sins.
“Idolatry and sorcery”: Nope.
“Drinking bouts, orgies.” We can start getting complacent, maybe even smug at this point because isn’t it obvious how good and noble we really are?
But, … what about those things on the list we skimmed over?
“Jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness.” Ouch. Those hit a little closer to home. Maybe we wish we had someone’s house, car or more sophisticated lifestyle. In our celebrity worshipping culture, other lifestyles might not only look more appealing, but might make us forget to cherish our own lives and those we love.
And what about that nagging jealousy about someone else’s close relationship we really want? Or a need to control people we love? A tendency to snap impatiently at our families?
“Dissensions, factions, occasions of envy.” Were those really mentioned in there? We might think of our small but deliberate manipulations and moves to get ahead at work. The disparaging remark we drop about a neighbor that wasn’t really fair. The “news” we pass along to others that might not have been quite accurate.
In Luke’s gospel, Jesus rails at the Pharisees and the Scholars, whose love of attention and prestige overpowers the love and compassion Jesus asks us to show toward others.
Both readings discuss the very real human behavior we often show, balanced out by what Jesus really asks of us. The Psalm response ties the readings together. “Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.”
When I ask myself what is going on when I turn into the off-centered religious person Jesus is talking to, or when I’m jealous or divisive, I realize the answer. I become that person because I’ve drifted away from my relationship with Jesus. When I am grateful for Jesus’ love for me, I’m more compassionate and forgiving. When I’m connected with Jesus, my heart is much more where his heart is. Taking a few minutes to reflect on these readings today draws me to keep letting myself be attracted to and in relationship with Jesus.
By Maureen McCann Waldron