My spiritual director in the seminary once told me that sin is forgetfulness. Adam giving in to the temptation of eating the forbidden fruit was forgetting the rest of creation that God had given him to use for his needs, forgetting the generosity of a gracious God. Peter denying Christ forgets their three years of friendship and journeying together in mission.
We come to the section in the Sermon on the Mount in today’s Gospel, where Christ draws a sharp criticism of the pharisees and scribes’ legalistic approach to the religion. Thus, Christ’s subtle but clear warning and stinging criticism: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Like all prophetic messages, the call of Christ is a return to the essentials, to the core inspiration. This is regaining perspective.
When we think about it, the roots of Christianity are found in the Old Testament covenant, “I will be your God, you will be my people.” This covenant develops into God being our Father and we his sons and daughters, the perfection of the relationship in the greatest commandment of love.
Thus all laws are expressions of this core relationship in our life and are supposed to be guides in being faithful to this relationship.
When we fall into legalism and split hairs, we forget this relationship. It is this relationship—God as Father and we, his beloved sons and daughters—that we can consider our “founding or core inspiration.” It is what gave us life and what gives life and inspiration to our day-to-day.
In the Vatican II document on religious congregations and orders, it is stated that the grace of the founder is the grace of the congregation. The inspiration of the founder to establish the congregation with a specific charism—the gift of grace to continue God’s saving work in our world today, the mission of Christ in a specific way—is grace that is alive in the work and community of the congregation.
I believe this is true not just for religious congregations, but for all organizations or communities established or formed for a specific inspiration and mission.
As the late Bishop Francisco Claver commented at a religious congregation, if their inspiration in engaging in the social apostolate is to be purely social activists and workers for justice, and this inspiration no longer presents the Gospel values and message as an alternative world view, then they had no business being in the social apostolate.
This is a clear and prophetic expression that the grace of the founder is the grace of the congregation.
When I prepare couples for their wedding, one of the reflections I ask them to do is to remember the blessings in their life as individuals and as a couple. Inevitably they list the moment they knew they were meant for each other.
As they make a conscious choice to commit to one another, I tell them to make memories together when they are close to this founding inspiration in their life as husband and wife. These memories remembered and cherished will always be a source of inspiration to keep their relationship rooted and grounded in love.
This is the central grace of the Holy Mass. We go back to the core inspiration of our being Christian and of our being community.
The Holy Mass is an act of remembering that Christ “loved me and gave himself up for me.” It is this core inspiration and grace that we remember at every Mass.
“We remember how you loved us to your death; and still we celebrate for you are with us here. And we believe that we will see you when you come in your glory Lord. We remember. We celebrate. We believe.”
As Christians, this is the song in our hearts and what makes our soul sing. We are a remembering people. We must give each other memories, graces to remember and in doing so always connect us to, root and ground us in love.
Today, let us remember and not forget that we have been redeemed by the love of the Father that comes to us through our Lord Jesus Christ “who loved me and gave himself up for me.” —CONTRIBUTED