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Monday, August 27, 2007

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St. Monica

1 Thessalonians 1:2-5, 8-10
Psalm 149
Matthew 23:13-22

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"Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, you frauds! You shut the doors of the kingdom of God in men's faces, neither entering yourselves nor admitting those who are trying to enter." —Matthew 23:13

Religious people can shut the doors of God's kingdom in other people's faces. Furthermore, we can demonize the few who do enter God's kingdom (Mt 23:15). One of the main ways we do this is by an attitude of casuistry — splitting hairs, looking for loopholes, and making rationalizations.

Casuistry is a begrudging, selfish attitude in which we refuse to give God everything. For example, the religious people in Jesus' day speculated about which oaths they could get away with (Mt 23:16-19). Today, young people ask how far they can go sexually before they commit mortal sin. Catholics call the rectory and ask if a certain Mass "counts." Many Catholics come to church at the last minute and leave immediately after Communion. They rationalize this and many other things. These are all expressions of casuistry.

Jesus did not begrudge us anything. He did not ask if just being scourged would "count" for our redemption. He did not try to shorten His time on the cross. He held nothing back. He emptied Himself (Phil 2:7) and gave us His all. If we give anything less than everything to the Lord, we turn others away from God, and worse than that, we refuse to love Jesus.

Prayer:  Jesus, I surrender all.

Promise:  "Our preaching of the gospel proved not a mere matter of words for you but one of power; it was carried on in the Holy Spirit." —1 Thes 1:5

Praise:  Rebuffed time and again by her son, St. Monica begrudged him nothing and continued her prayers for him until his very grand and public conversion.

Reference:  (For a related teaching, order our tape Developing A Deep Personal Relationship with Jesus on audio AV 52-1 or video V-52.)

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, March 14, 2007

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