Memorial of Saint Teresa of Jesus, virgin and Doctor of the Church
(Galatians 5:18-25; Luke 11:42-46)
St. Teresa of Jesus, perhaps better known as Teresa of Avila, lived at a time of laxness in religious life. It is not hard to imagine the kinds of abuses – nothing that would be scandalous today but niceties that impede the Lord’s discipleship: frequent self-dismissal from prayer, a hearty table at all meals, gossiping throughout of the day. Teresa could not stomach the betrayal of ideals and began to reform convents where such practices were carried on. Like Jesus in today’s gospel Teresa would have harsh words for those who exploit their religious state of life.
Jesus accuses the Pharisees and scholars of the Law for what might be called false religion. Religion is defined as the love of God to which, Jesus claims, the Pharisees pay no attention. Yet they want to be seen as doing so. Scholars of the Law are no better in Jesus’ eyes. They give strict interpretations of the Law which put great burdens on those who labor every day. Perhaps they can be compared to pastors who insist that parishioners pay a literal tithe – one tenth of all earnings – to the Church. It is fine for households making $200,000 a year but impossible for families earning only $20,000.
We who go to daily mass (or who read the Scriptures of the daily mass) must take care that we do not act like the Pharisees. We want to encourage others to make sacrifices for God not with condemnation but with understanding. If we truly love God, we will care about His people.