The sentence that every teacher hates to hear: “Summer is almost over”. And Yogi says “Thank God” because he hates this heat. He’s very excited to see the kids down at school. Which reminds me I made a mistake in one of the articles I’ve recently written - Yogi will be trained as a therapy dog soon, not a service dog. And we aren’t giving him away - technically he needs to be trained as one in order to be in the school and other places as well.
Enough about the dog. This week, our Lord reminds us to cleanse our hearts. The disciples are not following the Jewish traditions of the ceremonial washings, which were traditions that the Israelite people had in order to protect their religion from being corrupted by all the other surrounding religions (the Greeks and the Romans primarily). They were a conquered people, and in real danger of losing their faith to these other ideological systems. So, what do you do when you are under attack? You batten down the hatches. You make sure you keep safe what you have. And they did. All of these rules and laws were meant to protect their faith.
These laws and rules were good in and of themselves. But over time, like any rules and laws, some of them were just followed because they were the rules and laws. Keeping the nautical language - think about a sailboat in a storm. The things that the sailors treasure are down below and not on deck because they would be washed away by the storm. If the storm gets bad enough, you batten down the hatches and protect the precious things down below in order to protect them. Now, if a sailor does this over and over again for years and years (hundreds of years), it can be very easy to just think of the routine of battening down the hatches and completely forget about what you are protecting. What becomes important is just the PROCESS of protecting and not WHY you are protecting it.
So it was with the Israelite people - many forgot why they were following the laws and rules (the process) of their faith. They forgot about their precious gift given by God - their relationship with Him (aka faith).
It is an important lesson for us. It’s been over 2000 years since Jesus’ Passion on earth and we have many laws and rules to follow in order to protect ourselves from the evil storms of this world. These rituals and rules and devotions and obligations we have - are not bad. Think about hearing a siren of an emergency vehicle and praying a Hail Mary for them - we do it so that Mary may protect them and their precious gift of life and faith. So, the tools of the Church (laws, rituals, devotions, etc.) are not bad at all. We don’t throw them out lest our ship take on water and we lose our precious possessions in the storms of our lives. But let us not forget what is most precious to us - our relationship with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Never forget the WHY of our faith. This is what is at the center of our very existence. We exist because of His love for us. We exist to have relationship with Him. Let us remember to use the great tools of the Church to protect us and our relationship with Him.
May the Lord give you His peace,