One of the least appealing vices in American Society is hypocrisy. This may come from the strong Judeo-Christian force that shaped our nation, a tradition that viewed honest and forthright relations between the believer and God and with the believer’s neighbor. In the Old Testament, the prophet Amos railed against those who considered themselves faithful to the covenant and yet abandoned the poor. The prophet Isaiah was no less judgmental of those who said they were following the Law of the Lord but in fact were dismissive of its practical applications. The Gospel today tells how Jesus calls out the hypocritical nature of some who use the law to their advantage while ignoring the spirit in which it was originally written.
The Jesuits made quite a career of discerning when a law could be “broken” and when a different course of action is appropriate in a certain circumstance. This was known as casuistry and how the Jesuits defended and taught their various positions concerning the ultimate cause or law one should follow produced no end of criticism. A while back there was a popular expression that supposedly could solve every decision: What would Jesus do (WWJD)? Frequently, this standard of judgement decayed into what a certain person or organization thought Jesus would do instead of what Jesus actually would have done and paid little attention to the fullest implication of the law or desired activity.
Today’s gospel provides us with no little challenge with its recognition that there are laws but at times we break laws for an apparent greater good. This discernment as to the correct course of action, as the great Jesuit authors have always admonished, takes place after a profound and serious conversation and prayer with those sources and the teachings of the Church. Following our path may at times seem to be correct, but we must be certain that the path we follow is illumined by other lights than just our own.
Grace: An intimate knowledge of the many blessings received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Divine Majesty.
Reflection: In the meditation upon sin, we made reference to Dante’s vision of hell, a cold, desolate place where the fire of love has been extinguished and all lies in a spiritual torpor. This is the perfect image of the heart grown cold to the stirrings of love which God places within it. At the opposite end of Dante’s journey lies a vision that perfectly encapsulates the final meditation of the Spiritual Exercises, the Contemplation to Attain Divine Love. From the lowest reaches of the spiritual universe, Dante ascends to the heights of heaven, where he views “the love that moves the sun and the other stars.” At the heart of the universe lives the Trinitarian God, whose perfect love draws all being into an ordered symphony of praise. Dante feels himself drawn into this harmonic vision through the enflaming of his passions and desires. No one with eyes to see can sit impassively at the vision of God’s love. From the disordered state in which Dante had fallen at the beginning of the poem, he becomes progressively cleansed of his disordered affections through the grace of God and the intercession of Beatrice until finally he is able to pass through the heavens and stand in the presence of God. But notice that Dante only sees God’s depths after he has been interiorly transformed.