Answering With Understanding

Week of November 4, 2018

Jesus is moved in today’s Gospel by an experience of a young person who shares his understanding with the Lord.  What insight led to this sharing?  It is interesting to note that the understanding that Jesus seeks goes beyond the words of knowing the law and the greatest commandment.  The answer lies in the young person’s understanding that all of this love of God and neighbor is more important than all of the burnt offerings offered.  It is this insight that the Lord treasures. So what does that say to us?

There is a distinction between just knowing the words of the greatest commandment and understanding it.  It is easy for us to say we love the Lord with all our heart, all our soul and all our being.  We are in the process every day at trying to do that.  Each day we try to make God the priority of our lives.  The second great commandment is to love our neighbor.  Again we know the words and we strive to make that happen, at least until our neighbor becomes difficult.  It is then we are put to the test and this is the journey of being a follower of Jesus.  But what Jesus sees in the young person in the Gospel is understanding.  He sees the young person’s insight that all of this is greater than offerings.  Living the faith has a deeper connection to God than just going through the motions of offering sacrifice at the temple.

This comparison of priority is the understanding that is placed before us.  How often do we just go through the routine of spirituality without really thinking about what we do?  How often do we just check off the box that we prayed in the morning, yet never move to an awareness that the praise of God is to connect our soul to the will of God?  Too often our faith routines become just that—routine.  Understanding comes when we integrate our love of neighbor into our faith.  How often have we seen someone leave Mass and then get frustrated in the parking lot because the vehicles in front of them are not moving fast enough?  Or we leave Mass only to hear someone gossip about their neighbor?

Living faith is not about going through the motions.  Living faith is not about doing things out of obligation.  Living faith is a vibrancy of joy.  St. Teresa of Calcutta found joy in walking among the poorest of the poor.  She found excitement as she met Jesus on the street in the eyes of an abandoned child.  She lived with the expectation that Jesus was in the face of everyone she met.  This propelled her to a peace and joy beyond imagination.

We are all great about knowing our faith, the challenge is to have an understanding of it.

Reverend John J. Ouper