Why do we do the things we do? Certainly, our education influences many of the choices we make, but what is the final authority we look to, to guide our lives? Is it a political entity; the media or the friendships we have formed? Is it the word of God?
We see in the Old Testament how God chose a particular people to be His own so that all humanity might know what it means to be faithful to the One True God and to receive His favor. We read in Deuteronomy (4:6), one essential component of this faithful relationship is revealed – the commandments God gave His chosen people through Moses. Of these commandments, Moses says,
“Observe them carefully, for thus you will give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations, who will hear these statutes and say, ‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’”
How Can I Be Wise and Intelligent?
Wisdom and intelligence were measured by the closeness to God that the Chosen People experienced when they were faithful to the law that was set before them. This is the same law that is set before us. As Jesus said, all of the law and prophets are summed up in the two greatest commandments. We must love the Lord Our God with all our mind, heart, and strength and our neighbor as our self. If we keep these commandments, we will be wise and intelligent people. If we do not, no matter what else we accomplish, we will be foolish, unhappy, and hopeless.
God has a great plan for humanity in general and each and every one of us in particular. We can only discover our personal plan that will allow us to reach our potential for happiness in this life and for all eternity by drawing close to God. We do that by being faithful to what He has revealed to us through the Scriptures and the Church. This is the authority that Jesus Christ left us so that we might remain close to him and receive the grace we need to make decisions that may be difficult, but in the end, lead to wholeness and hope. This authority will often be in conflict with the wisdom of the world.
Keeping a Clean Heart
Any good thing can be abused and misused. In the Gospel of Mark (7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23), we see religious leaders using the law for their own purpose. In order to observe the law they, over the course of years, added on hundreds of precepts for the people to follow. The intentions may have been good, but in the end, the percepts, at times, become more of a burden than a help in keeping the law. The Pharisees try to use the cleansing ritual to trap Jesus. The primary intention of this ritual is purity of heart. Clean hands are more important than washed hands. The outward sign of the cleansing was supposed to reflect that which was interior.
In this case, Jesus reads their hearts and chastises them by explaining that what is truly unclean comes from within a person, such as, “…evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, and folly.” These are what defile a person.
It is not easy to live each day with a clean heart in a world that has no regard for God or His law. Jesus said it would be difficult to follow him. He said we must deny our self and take up our cross each day. He also knows at times we will fall, because he asks us to do things we can only do with his help. For this reason, he has given us the sacraments, especially reconciliation so we can receive him in the Eucharist with a clean heart.
These two sacraments; reconciliation and Eucharist fortified by daily prayer, make it possible to stay close to God and to be guided and transformed by his presence. Prayer is not only essential for our relationship with God it also strengthens our relationship with one another. It is important for a husband and wife to pray together and to pray with their children. We should pray before everything we do, asking for God’s help. Our Blessed Mother wants to obtain for us the grace we need to be faithful; praying the Rosary will help us to stay close to God and stay together as a family. Let us pray that our great nation will be filled with people who are truly wise and intelligent because of our faithfulness to God’s laws.
Deacon Tom Fox, K.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with his wife, Mary Jane Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Deacon Tom is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.