I find that many people observe religion as a set of rules that must be obeyed or they will be put out of the community. Even people who come to Church see the Faith as a list of “do’s and don’t’s”. Is this true for you?
At first glance, it seems the first reading for today is saying exactly that. “They shall live by my statutes…They shall observe my decrees.” They. Shall. Sounds awfully bossy, doesn’t it?
However, what if we looked at these statements in light of the desires of a Father who wants only good things for us? At the very beginning, He says “I will deliver them, I will cleanse them.” It is like a Father whose child has fallen into a mud puddle. He doesn’t just tell the child to get up and out of the mess, he goes over and wipes his little one off, cleans them up and even puts a new outfit on his child.
When we read the Gospel it is admittedly a little bit odd. It’s not one of those stories that instantly pops into our heads when we think of “Gospel stories”. Caiaphas was the high priest that would eventually allow Jesus to be condemned to His death. He speaks to the grumbling Pharisees and the Sanhedrin getting them to turn their anger towards a plan to sacrifice Jesus which leads to his prophesying Christ’ death.
And yet Christ died even for Caiaphas. The way that God cleans his children is by wiping them with the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. It isn’t laws that God puts on us, it is a call to the response of His loving plan for us. When we accept this gift of salvation, His gracious gifts are even more abundant than we could ever imagine.
Jennifer Brown is the Coordinator of Evangelization and Discipleship at Immaculate Heart in Lansing MI where she invites people to know, love and serve Jesus Christ.