O Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!
I’ve always been a good rule follower. When I started graduate school at the University of Portland, the program I was completing required us to take the Strengths Finder* test and then use our top five strengths to reflect on our day to day experiences as first and second year teachers. My top two strengths were belief and responsibility, and I have definitely seen these two strengths permeate my worldview since I was a child.
For the non rule followers of the world, rules and laws can seem needlessly restrictive, but there’s a certain freedom that comes from following the rules. I’m not talking about the silly rules that crop up in almost any environment (for example, our work dress code strictly forbids bib overalls), but more the rules that shape our Catholic Christian moral identity. Following the rules frees us from worry about consequences and frees us to live more fully within the greater community.
There’s definitely some danger in being a rule follower. Many great saints have struggled with scruples, or focusing TOO much on their own sinfulness. St. Ignatius Loyola had a period in his life where he was going to confession multiple times in one day until his confessor pointed out that his zeal was stemming from the sin of pride- who was Ignatius to believe that he was so sinful God couldn’t forgive him? I myself sometimes find myself struggling with legalism- struggling so much with following every letter of the law that I forget the true spirit of the law.
The good news is that no matter where on the rule following spectrum you fall, Jesus came to rescue you with his mighty power and with the law. Maybe you struggle with following the rules because you don’t fully understand the “why” behind the laws of Adonai. Maybe you struggle with losing the joy God intended for those who follow his law. Maybe you know you can never follow God’s law perfectly and this makes you want to not even try. No matter where you are, ask Jesus the law bringer to give you the grace you need where and when you need it to be able to find the joy and freedom in the laws of God.
For today: Reflect on where you stand in regards to God’s law. Are you a legalist? Are you a rebel? Are you picking and choosing what to follow? Are you convinced it is too hard to even try? Write a prayer asking God for his strength, grace and mercy as you welcome Jesus the law bringer into your celebration of Advent and Christmas.
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