Our faith when centered on us instead of Jesus can become an obstacle to his teaching. It is for this reason that constant discernment of our faith should be a habit.
Let’s take the Sadducees. They were God-believing Jews. However, their faith was not centered on God but themselves. They were educated, religious and politically influential. They trusted more on their understanding of the law than in what God intended by it: to prepare them to receive His son Jesus Christ. Their inability to surrender to God’s will blocked them from believing in Jesus and, thus, his teaching including the resurrection.
When they asked Jesus about the widow of seven brothers and her marital fate after her resurrection, they asked to not to affirm Jesus’ teaching but to assert their self-righteousness.
For the last 2000 years, there have always been people whose self-center faith have prevented them from following Jesus’ teaching as intended. At one extreme, people use their faith to justify discrimination, violence, and intolerance. At another, people use their faith to water down Jesus’ teaching on the sanctity of marriage, life, and individual freedom.
The former builds his faith on a heart of stone which blocks Jesus’ teaching; the latter builds their faith on a sandy heart which is easily brought down by the winds of relativism.
We have a little of both groups in all of us. Our desire to protect our ego and our personal interpretations is a strong force which requires our attention and God’s grace. Otherwise we succumb to them.
Faith centered on Jesus’ teaching requires daily reflection, contrition, and amends. These habits offer us daily resurrection from our imperfections. Faith is our tightrope which leads to God. Jesus’ teaching is the balance beam. Proper balance on the rope is obtained by our spiritual life.
In our daily lives we confront situations which test Jesus’ teaching. How we react to them are occasions which define us as disciples of Christ.
In the Book of Maccabees, the account of the martyrdom of a mother and another set of 7 brothers illustrates the forces acting against God’s teaching. Today, like in their time, we have the secular, the unbeliever, and the zealots cajoling us in obvious and subtle ways to renounce Jesus’ teaching. If they succeed, we will fall in line with their values and not Jesus’ teaching. Like the mother and her seven son, we will need to make a choice. Faith centered on Jesus’ teaching is the antidote to provide clarity, understanding, and prudence.
May we have God’s grace to act and the strength to remain steadfast.