Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent
Perfection. We so labor under images of perfection, false images. Jesus excoriated the Pharisees of His time for laying burdens on the people they themselves would not lift. Our ideas of holiness can be just such a burden, and it is not coincidence that the Pharisees were all about being holy. Their good – holy – desire went astray because when they tried to institutionalize holiness, it became the image of holiness that then increasingly hid the corruption within. A corruption they became less and less willing to look at – and more and more willing to project onto other people. It is the perpetual temptation of the true aspirations of religion.
How did Jesus then avoid this? As He was holiness itself, He incarnated that for which the Pharisees longed. The answer lies in His fathomless mercy and love for all, and Jesus’ refusal to place Himself as a final judge. Rather, He was “meek and humble of heart.” He took the lowest place, and sought the lowest place, along with the morally improper people. His holiness was so real, so great, that He did not need to set up boundaries with others – the unclean! Rather, unthreatened by the dirt on others, His love invited them to simply become clean, as He is clean. There is joy in this, and in this alone: for we are cleansed by His love.
So rather than labor under the images of perfection our culture would throw our way, we might turn to the images of perfection the Church gives us. Saints in all shapes and sizes, some condemned and even killed by righteous seeming people – Joan of Arc comes to mind – but vindicated by God because they were simply carrying the Cross of Jesus. The one burden that is light, the one yoke that is easy.