As Catholics, sometimes we just have to laugh at ourselves. We strive to live our faith, achieve closeness to God and gain access to heaven but we sure do love a loophole! Take Mass, for example. Let’s be honest, there’s probably not one of us who has been invited to a Saturday wedding who didn’t double check to see if it “counts” as our Sunday obligation. I bet we’ve all had at least one of those days when we were running late for Mass and were relieved that we blew in right before the Gospel. It’s not that we don’t love God or even love Mass but sometimes it seems the bare minimum is all we can muster. It’s not that our heart isn’t in the right place, but sometimes we allow the less important activities of life to distract us from the only thing that is truly important. Our church obviously realizes this because they have those rules so we know exactly how much we can get away with!
Jesus always told his disciples that they just needed to do the minimum to get into heaven – NOT! He told them (and by extension, us) that it takes our everything to get there! Sell everything you have, take up your cross, leave your livelihood, are just a few of the drastic steps Jesus described as what was necessary to follow him. So, what chance do we have of being true followers of Christ if sometimes we’re looking for the detail in the church “rules” to get us off the hook. The devil is in the details, literally. He wants to busy us and stress us so that we lose sight of what God desires from us.
It one of his favorite tactics and to be fair, it’s been pretty successful. We get caught up in the all the running around and stress-filled days to the point that even the Lord’s Day is packed with things we didn’t finish earlier in the week. Mass becomes relegated to another item on our agenda for the day. So, we take short cuts in the one event of the week that we should be completely centered around. Even though our heart says we want to spend time with the Lord, our actions don’t always reflect that desire.
You may wonder why our Church gives us those specific rules about what qualifies as Mass attendance when our Lord clearly demands more? Well, the answer is simply because they know we are human. The reality is that God wants us to give Him our whole heart, soul, mind and body. He knows we are not always going to succeed, and Jesus knew it too when He expressed His expectations over 2,000 years ago. In addition to being great at lofty expectations, our Lord is also really great at mercy. But that’s no excuse for letting the devil convince us that the minimum is acceptable. We can’t let him change our heads because then eventually he’ll succeed at changing our hearts, too. If our goal is reach heaven when we die, then we need to start thinking about how actions are working to achieve that goal. It’s not enough to want it, we have to live it and when we fall short, we have to get up and try hard to live it again.
Look at how you prioritize your life this week.
Is faith something you’re squeezing in or does it reflect the wholeness of yourself that you really want to give to God?
Here’s to praying we all forget the details and throw ourselves completely into the arms of our Lord!
Michelle lives in Baton Rouge with her husband and two kids. She is a cradle Catholic and runs a small business. Michelle is slightly obsessed with St. Padre Pio and 80s music.