Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"the law of the 'I' is love"

We are tempted all the time to reduce Christian life to moralism, to doing the right thing. When we live in such a way, we give ourselves a lot of credit for being what we mistakenly believe to be obedient. Obedience, which is adherence to Christ, is not just following the rules in a strict way. If living in this way comprised what life in Christ is meant to be we could have just stuck with the Law, with observing the 613 mitzvot. The trouble with this, as Jesus demonstrated time and again in his encounters with the scribes and Pharisees, is that heartless observance of these prescriptions and proscriptions does not even constitute fidelity to the Law. Jesus Christ alone fulfilled the Law by loving the Father and us perfectly. He alone makes up for our unwillingness and inability in this regard. He crystallized the Law for us: "But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?' And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets'." (Matt. 22:34-40).

How do I know when I am living in a moralistic manner? Luigi Giussani, in whose charism I am blessed to share, stated that "if your action derives from something dictated to you, it's child's play. If it comes from the awareness moved by the presence of a [person] destined for the eternal, it is no longer child's play" (Is It Possible to Live This Way? Vol 3). As St. Paul urged the church in Corinth "do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature" (1 Cor. 14:20).


  1. I love this post - all that we do is in response to God's love. Obedience comes from deep and holy listening, not just doing things that we think are right.

    Happy New Year and many blessings to you.

  2. Fran:

    It is true. Mindless, or pro forma, acting is not obedience, it is not even human,

    Happy New Year to you, my dear friend!


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