Brothers and sisters: For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.
It is I, Paul, who am telling you that if you have yourselves circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. Once again I declare to every man who has himself circumcised that he is bound to observe the entire law. You are separated from Christ, you who are trying to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we await the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
R. (41a)Let your mercy come to me, O Lord. Let your mercy come to me, O LORD, your salvation according to your promise. R.Let your mercy come to me, O Lord. Take not the word of truth from my mouth, for in your ordinances is my hope. R.Let your mercy come to me, O Lord. And I will keep your law continually, forever and ever. R.Let your mercy come to me, O Lord. And I will walk at liberty, because I seek your precepts. R.Let your mercy come to me, O Lord. And I will delight in your commands, which I love. R.Let your mercy come to me, O Lord. And I will lift up my hands to your commands and meditate on your statutes. R.Let your mercy come to me, O Lord.
After Jesus had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.”
By Owen Wolf
Walking the dusty, dirt roads of Monte Sinai early during my volunteer experience in Ecuador I found myself feeling hopeless. The overwhelming daily presence of struggle and despair everywhere I looked seemed too much for the tired faces and hands around me to carry another day. Frequently my eyes would well while hearing what my neighbors were experiencing and after a beso goodbye I would leave their homes with a heavy heart. After reading St. Paul’s words, the words of one of my own neighbors, Gloria, rang clearly through my mind. One morning I entered Gloria’s home to visit with her and her son Raulito, carrying with me a heavy mind and some bread to share for breakfast. While sitting in Gloria’s living room I asked her
How, amidst all of the pain and struggle present in her life, was she able to keep such an unwavering faith in God that everything would turn out okay?
Gloria took a sip of her coffee, taking her time to properly calculate her response. She let out a slight chuckle followed by stating that she does not in fact know if everything will turn out okay. Her expression tightened as she explained how more importantly, she believes in her heart that God will be sure everything is okay for her and Raulito. Gloria recognized that she and her son did not have much, but that God died for all of mankind on the cross while wearing a crown of thorns for our freedom and that if he could do that, then what does she truly have to fear?
This statement sat in the air in the room for a period of time. Gloria, amazed by God’s love for all of the world, told me that is how her faith stays so strong.
Anyone willing to undergo that type of treatment for the freedom of another is the purest exemplification of love.
Gloria exemplifies the type of faith that St. Paul writes about when stating, “For the Spirit, by faith, we await the hope of righteousness… But only faith working through love.”
These past few months have been challenging for me with so much uncertainty and division in the world.
It is easy to lose focus on my faith and blame external causes for feeling so distant from God.
Yet both Gloria and St. Paul have taught me to control the controllables, like keeping my faith well connected and living everyday with love at the center of all I do. I am able to actively choose everyday to channel my energy toward good and put the best version of myself out there. With a clear mind and connected heart, not only am I able to await the hope of righteousness of God, I am able to see it in all things as it unfolds in front of me.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Owen Wolf is an individual with a passion for connection. Connection with his faith, family, friends, environment, and within himself. As an avid outdoorsman he spends large amounts of time in the woods or near water marveling at God’s creation. With strong interests in cross cultural experience Owen enjoys traveling frequently and has spent extended periods of time living in both Italy and Ecuador. You can find out more about him here.