Thursday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time
(Ephesians 1:1-10; Luke 11:47-54)
In a book of prayers, the great twentieth century theologian Karl Rahner asks if God is the God of all the laws which the Church has on record. There certainly are many rules, rubrics, and regulations in Church files although not as many as when Rahner wrote the book before Vatican II. Rahner answers his question with characteristic paradox. No, God is not the God of laws, but He is the God of the one law of love. When a person obeys the laws of the Church, which may seem trivial, out of love for God and not just to appear devout, then she is assured of finding God in her acquiescence.
Rahner recognizes the possibility that some Church rules may be too burdensome for people to bear. He finds in the gospel itself testimony that those who legislate unwarranted precepts will be held accountable. In the gospel yesterday and today Jesus charges the Pharisees and Scribes with doing just that. They need to repent every bit as much as thieves and adulterers.
Jesus champions our cause by revealing God’s will. He shows us that people who appear to be holy may not in fact be living according to God’s will. He wants us to be holy but takes pains to point out that holiness has less to do with following countless regulations than with freeing people of slavery to power or pleasure so that they too may love as God loves.