‘Love one another as I have loved you’, says Christ. The way of Jesus is made known to us by the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. In presenting the way of Jesus to us, the Church has given us lots of rules and regulations and practices to help us to know what Jesus is like and what he wants us to do so that we can live good lives, by loving God and loving our neighbour.
We have to be careful, however, that the rules and regulations do not take on a life of their own. This had happened in the Jewish faith at the time of Christ. The religious leaders in Judaism at the time of Christ were the Pharisees and Sadducees. They presented the teachings of Moses to the people but as happened later in the Church their rules and regulations took over. Keeping rules was seen as being faithful and loving of God. And so, washing in certain ways and washing after coming from the marketplace was essential. People knew immediately that you were a religious person if you observed the rules to the letter.
Jesus however was a person full of common sense. He spoke to the people about their God and his love for them. He spoke to them of how they could love their God by loving their neighbour. Good and decent living was much more important than keeping rigidly to rules and regulations.
Because Jesus spoke with authority many people followed him, and still do. In our Church today we, too, have lots of rules and regulations and traditions. These can take on a life of their own. The keeping of these rules can be seen as Christian and loyal and all important.
Christ, however spelled out clearly the most important rule that we must observe. We must love our God with all our heart and soul and also love our neighbour as ourselves. We must care for ourselves and our neighbour by being just and honest, by being forgiving and compassionate, by not being greedy or envious. That is the way of Christ.
(From Ennis Parish Newsletter) Adapted.