Today is what is known as Gaudete Sunday. It is the Sunday where we Rejoice for our time of expectation is coming to an end for Christmas is near. It is one of the two weeks of the year that the priest has the preferred option to wear rose. The other is the fourth Sunday of Lent which is called Laudate Sunday.
I was looking over the readings and doing my usual research on them and I discovered something powerful to see.
First, notice something. John is talking about a powerful transformation that is to come. Now we have seen those terms in our time. Remember both Presidents Barack Obama and Joseph Biden said that they were about to transform America. Their statements indicated that the America before their election would not be the same as the one when they left office.
Now notice what St. John the Baptist says, when Jesus comes he is going to bring the transforming power of fire. We know now that this symbolizes the Holy Spirit who will come and transform not only the people of God, which happened but also the hearts of all who seek him which happened and still does.
However, looking further, I can see that John is actually predicting a new change that will come in this transformation. Look carefully and you will that everything will change from a law-based faith to a love-based faith. St. Paul explains that the old law passes away and the new law is that under which we live. We now live a faith in charity and virtue. So it is not the letter of the law we follow but the law that seeks for us to humbly seek all Christ wants for us because humility is the mother of all virtues but also seeks to treat others in love. This we see in John’s calling for every to things which we see are in charity. This is a whole new way of acting and being.
Legal versus Love
We no longer must focus on what is legal and avoid the illegal but we live at a higher standard which is always legal to do what is best for others as humble servants of Christ.
The catechism of the Catholic Church shows us that one of his responses invites us to a love for the poor. Therefore, the one who has two tunics must live as if he has one so that he can share the other one with the poor.
Then we can also see What he is calling everyone to do to live by a different standard. So instead of doing what is legally accepted? Certainly, it appears that everything was legally accepted that they were practicing. They now must live by a higher standard in doing what is loving and charitable.
Therefore. We need to look at this from a whole different way of understanding. Now the legal understanding is moving away and the loving understanding is coming in, and that will drive the new Kingdom.
Let's look at this in the terms of Jesus clashed with the Pharisees. What is it all about? The law versus how we treat others? the law required everyone to live by a certain standard. But Jesus is calling them to live by a higher standard that is above the law. So it is against the law to do any kind of work on the Sabbath. But Jesus is acting in love in healing those who are looking for healing. Even if it's on the Sabbath.
So let's bring that to ourselves. And let's look at a perfect example of how we can understand this.
Gospel message for today
How should we live our lives differently? We can no longer take that as an example because we're living in a different time and a different culture.
But let me take one example. You saw the shooting that happened last week in Michigan. You all saw that the parents allegedly bought the shooter a gun which he used in that shooting.
Many people are asking the question, why would parents give their fifteen-year-old child a gun? Well, there is true hunting. One need only listen to Hank Williams Jr sing A Country Boy Can Survive and understand this.
But let me go another step. If we truly are called to live the gospel and we're truly called to live it in such a way that we are different than others, and we're living a loving community. Why would any parent give their child a video game that involves shooting others, even if those others are aliens? Should we as a community, even though it's legal to do this, allow those who are younger to use such video games.
One of the things I always like to point out is that. The action happens in the virtual world, but the decisions are made in the real world, and so we look at that in understanding. Is that compatible with who we are as Catholics? I always tell people that I will never play a video game and I don't play them that much anyway, and most of mine are based on train simulations. But I never play a video game that has a demonic figure on it. I won't play a video game, I won't read a book that has a demonic figure on it, I just won't. It's something I don't believe in.
So we believe in living by a completely different standard than what is legal. Therefore. What we are seeing, John is beginning this process of helping help people understand that there is a legal standard, but then there is the loving standard and Jesus is going to call us to the loving standard which is a higher level than the legal standard. The church also reminds us that despite all this, our church is filled with those who sincerely choose to follow Christ and those who pretend. And. That can't be changed until the end of the world. That is the reference to the threshing floor. That yes, there were good people in the church and there were bad people in the church and God will set them apart. The false image is that anyone who is in the church is a good person. That is not what the church teaches. That is not what Jesus taught. That's not what Saint John the Baptist taught. What we learn is that God will sort everyone else. Our role is to seek to be people who live in charity. And be aware that there were those that will take advantage of us.
So Saint John the Baptist is calling us to a whole different standard of understanding to prepare ourselves to live by charity. Not by law, and to live at that higher standard.
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