Religion has the tendency to take on a life of its own with innumerable laws, rules, customs, traditions, rituals and forms of dress. You could be forgiven for thinking that this is exactly what the Catholic Church is like. Undoubtedly through our long history there have been times when this has been the case and there are still some in the Church who hanker after this. Thankfully though, our wonderful faith is the primary focus of the Church and down to earth leaders such as Pope Francis and our own Cardinal Napier are a shining example of this.
That Jesus had a problem with the religious leaders of his time is without doubt.They were filled with a sense of their own self-importance and made life difficult for the people. They had forgotten that they were there to serve the people of God and not to lord it over them.
Naturally the Church, as a religious organisation and a faith community, has to have rules, and because we have been around for such a long time, we have a rich tradition as well as customs and rituals. But these are meant to serve us – not the other way around!
Ask yourself today, ‘where is my focus? Is it on customs, traditions and rituals or on the essence of my faith? Am I following Jesus with a lively faith?’ Remember that Lent is the season for the renewal of our faith so that we can join in with the Catechumens at the Easter Vigil. They are asked, “What do you ask of God’s Church?” They answer, “Faith.” Next, they are asked, “What does this faith offer you?” They reply, “Eternal Life!”
Pray for your priest – and for all priests. Ask God to guide them so that they are filled with the spirit of Jesus, serving God’s people in humility and sincerity, concerned about the salvation of all God’s children.
Father, I thank you for the gift of your Son Jesus who shows us the way to you. Help me to follow in his way so that I may imitate his humility and be of service to others. Amen.