Isaiah 1:10, 16-20
Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom!
Listen to the teaching of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your doings
from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan,
plead for the widow.
Come now, let us argue it out,
says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be like snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
you shall eat the good of the land;
but if you refuse and rebel,
you shall be devoured by the sword;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Psalm 50: 8-9, 16-17, 21, 23
Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
your burnt offerings are continually before me.
I will not accept a bull from your house,
or goats from your folds.
But to the wicked God says:
“What right have you to recite my statutes,
or take my covenant on your lips?
For you hate discipline,
and you cast my words behind you.
These things you have done and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one just like yourself.
But now I rebuke you, and lay the charge before you.
Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me;
to those who go the right way
I will show the salvation of God.”
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
There is a popular “Christianese” term, “Cafeteria Christian”, that refers to people who pick and choose which of God’s commands they are going to follow. While many people become offended by that term, it points out a very prevalent problem of how we seek to fit our understanding of God into the confines of our lives, versus letting our lives be shaped by Him and His word.
Each of today’s readings highlight this issue. In the reading from Isaiah, God has had enough of the people living in sin and He wants them to be saved. He invites them to wrestle with His words and even argue with Him over it. He so desperately wants them to be in full communion with Him that no matter how grim their actions have been, He invites them in their discord back unto Himself and gives them the steps to right the wrongs that they have incurred. In the Gospel, Jesus also points out the blatant sins taking place and tells the disciples how to not fall into them. All throughout scripture we see our God calling out to us, instructing us in our return to Him, forgiving and dismissing all our our misdeeds, and loving us when we least deserve it.
All we have to do, is be willing to submit to His love. It takes discipline to reject sin. It takes humility to stop squeezing God into the confines of our worldly desires and let our choices be dictated by His word. But we have the example, the grace, and salvation from on high offered to us through Jesus Christ. The result is full union with God, justice for the oppressed, and our own exaltation by the grace of God. He is worth it. Our eternal salvation is worth it.
Today, let us repent of the ways that we have not been following God’s laws but only listening to the parts of His words that were convenient to us and receive instead full reconciliation with Jesus.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, I have not always listened to your laws and let my life be shaped by them. Instead, I have crafted my theologies around my thoughts or the culture around me and been led astray. Help me to have the humility and discipline to let my heart, mind, and actions be instructed by you. Today Lord I receive your word as the law of love and will strive to live my life by it. Please give me the grace to do that, amen.