What is God’s commandment for you? Have you obeyed all of it?
Today’s first reading is taken from 1 Kings 8:22-30. The story is about King Solomon’s prayer to God after the completion of the holy temple. Solomon knew that God may not stay in one place made by human. So he said, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!” (1 Kings 8: 27). However, he also prayed that God will listen to his prayer, so that God may hear the prayer which the people make toward the holy temple.
Then today’s Gospel from Mark 7:1-13 tells about the Pharisees judged Jesus’s apostles because they didn’t wash their hands before eating.
The first thing come to mind while talking about God’s commandment maybe is the famous Ten Commandments. It is believed as the law from God given through Moses for the Israelites. This Ten Commandments also become the life guidance for Christians. People who broke the commandment even just one, will be called a sinner. Following the Ten Commandments is a must. Yes, I tell you, it is a must. I hope we can talk about that later. But for today, I have another “commandments” that I have to follow as a Catholic. It is called the five Precepts of the Church or the Commandments of the Catholic Church. Here I am giving you the list:
I remember when I was a catechumen (someone who is willing to be baptized as Christian), I have to memorize all of the precepts. I believed that people who follows the commandments will be accepted in heaven (such a childish thought, right? haha). As I grow older–as I have told in my previous reflection–I liked to judge people, including my friends and family.
When I know some of my friends didn’t fo to church regularly as I did, I stamped them as ‘not holy’ in my mind. When I know that my parents didn’t confess regularly as the precepts said, I stamped them as ‘not holy’. And you know, when people are stamped ‘not holy’ in mind, I believe that they will be punished by God. Thank God that I didn’t think that way anymore. (It’s a scary spiritual thought actually 😅.)
My dear friends, today King Solomon’s prayer (which is sooo beautiful) reminded us to seek first the essence of God’s commandment. If you read the previous story, you’ll find that the idea to build a house for God was actually David’s. Then God told David that he won’t build the temple, but his son–who is Solomon–will. So after the temple has been built, Solomon celebrated it, but he also didn’t forget to pray. Solomon said in his prayer, that God cannot be placed in a place made by human. Solomon knew the truth. He didn’t build the temple so that he can keep God there forever (sounds a bit creepy huh?) But he built the temple so that people of Israel can worship God, pray to God, and give sacrifice to God in an extraordinary place. That’s what he prayed, “And may You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear in heaven Your dwelling place; and when You hear, forgive.“(1 Kings 8:30)
Isn’t that a church built for? Yes, the church is a sacred place, but only if you do believe that God is there. You can ask the unbelievers, and they’ll say that the church is just an ordinary place. So the most important thing is not how many times you go to church, but how is your heart when you are there? Do you believe that God is there?
Is it important that someone has to confess his sin at least once a year? Of course it is important, but the most important is how did you confess? Did your heart really opened to God’s love and forgiveness, or you just do it as an obligation? Did you do it so that your neighbour won’t call you a sinner or an apostate? Think about it.
I’m not saying that the Precepts of the Church is not important. No. I say this, all of the precepts are important. But it’s useless if we just do it as an obligation.
Today Jesus reminded us also, hardly, as He said to the Pharisees (who He called as hypocrite). He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me’.” (Mark 7:6)
We may go to church, worships God through songs and music, read the bible everyday, serve at the church community, give a big amount of offering…but have we actually done God’s commandments?
He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. (Mark 7:9)
We know what is the most important of God’s commandments: it is to Love.
Love conquers all, it’s true. So now when you met someone who divorced with her husband and married to another man, you can’t say “She is a sinner. She broke her vow. She shouldn’t enter the church anymore!” or if your friend came to you, crying, said that her husband tortured her, beat her everyday…you can’t just say, “Bear it, Dear. He is your husband after all. You have promised to God to be with him until death right?” No, no, no. Maybe someone else will tell you differently, but in my opinion, human life is above all. Who will be responsible if this woman died or became paralyzed because of her husband?
Also if you find someone come to church with just very ordinary clothes, you cannot say, “Hey, go home and change with a better clothes. Don’t you know you’ll met God here?” Has anyone ever heard why Gandhi didn’t became a Christian even when he admired Jesus so much? You should read the story.
My dear friends, all of the tradition is important. The Church Precepts are important. But let me remind you that the most important thing is your heart. Without awareness of its true meaning, your tradition will just be an empty act.
May God equipped you with awareness of everything you do, so that you’ll be able to see God’s true commandments. God bless you.