Saint Paul has an urgent message for the Christian community in Rome: the Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. The revelation of God to us - creation, covenants, the Incarnation of Jesus, the passion and resurrection of Jesus, the founding of the Church - is fantastic news. It is a single story of redemption, with the goal of rescuing and saving all of humanity.
As Jesus arrives at the dinner, he intentionally does not perform the ablutions prescribed by religious observance before dining. He seems to omit this on purpose to teach the Pharisees a lesson. He makes the point that the minor observance of hand washing before eating is nothing compared to cleansing of the of the interior, the heart. However, by placing the observance of the law above true faith and worship of God.
Jesus calls such people fools for giving higher priority to minor customs and neglecting the central relationship with God and others. They were foolish because they exchanged faith in God for worship of idols. The fools of Jesus’ day created idols out of ritual observance.
Friends, I was wondering how this applies to the Holy Rosary we pray each day. There is a danger with the Rosary, as with all prayers we memorize and know be heart, even the Mass, that we allow them to become rote, that is, words we say that are empty of meaning and purpose.
In this month of October millions of people around the world are praying the Rosary.
There is a danger of falling into the same idolatry as the Pharisees by focusing on making sure we repeat all the prayers just right and so many times.
Just as there is nothing wrong with the Pharisees washing their hands before eating, there is certainly nothing wrong with praying the Rosary and repeating prayers we know so well. What is the difference between rote repetition and genuine prayer to God? I think it is focusing on the mysteries of our Lord’s life and allowing those mysteries to come alive with a freshness every time we pray.
They come alive especially when ask the Holy Spirit to help us. Just as He helps Mary and Joseph to recognize the intermingling of the events of Jesus’ life with their own so will He do with us. Helped by the Holy Spirit, we can find an echo of the joys, preaching, the sufferings and the triumphs of Jesus in our own daily experience as a family and a member of the Body of Christ.
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About Father Willy Raymond, C.S.C.
Father Willy Raymond, C.S.C. is President of Holy Cross Family Ministries. He entered Holy Cross Fathers in 1964. He earned a Bachelors in Philosophy from Stonehill College in 1967 and a Masters in Theology from the University of Notre Dame in 1971. In addition to English, Father Willy is conversant in French and Spanish. He's a native of Old Town, Maine and one of 12 children. He remains a diehard fan of the Boston Red Sox, even though he has served as Chaplain for the Los Angeles Dodgers.