Monday, May 16, 2016

Lex Orendi, Lex Credendi?

For tomorrow's daily mass the readings continue to examine the Epistle of Saint James.  He continues to encourage us to work for God's kingdom and to avoid things of the world, things of the ego and of the flesh. He uses some pretty strong words, indeed.   He compares worldly things to adultery!  Why would he do that?   Because this thing we live as Christians is a relationship.  We, the Church, are the Bride of Christ. Greed, pride, and disordered attachments to worldly things are the very cause of our conflicts, arguments, even wars.  When we do these sorts of things we are breaking our relationship with Christ, we are 'cheating' on Him with something worth much less, with something inanimate.  It's a rejection of the one we should love completely and instead replacing it with something that doesn't fit.

You know those kid games?  The ones where you have all these different shapes and you have to fit the correct game piece into the right hole?  Well, each of us is created with a God shaped hole in our heart.  We can force something into it, for a time.. and it might even kind of fit.. but eventually it rubs us and chafes us.. because it's not the right shape, not the right size.  Only when we take a God shaped object and put it in a God shaped hole does our life become complete.. anything less... is adultery.. it's cheating.. it's avoiding the rules of the game and jamming something that shouldn't fit in there to try and fill up that hallow, empty place.

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

― Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

James reminds us of that saying: lex orendi, lex credendi.   That is: how we worship is how we believe.  If we worship as if God is the most important thing in our lives then that will help us form our belief, and vice versa.  If you worship like God is a thorn in your side, something that chafes and makes life harder?   So will you begin to believe.  I pray the liturgy of the hours every day.  I pray about an hour in the morning, fifteen minutes midday, and an hour a night.  Sometimes it's tedious and my mind wants me to think: I could be doing other things!  My favorite show is on!  The yard needs mowing!  I could be running or riding my bike!  So many excuses flow in that make me want to skip it.   If I continue to do that though, I am choosing the wrong shape to fit in my God shaped hole.   If I act like God is just something to fit in my schedule, well then I'm gonna start feeling that way.. treating him that way... Instead if I realize it's a gift to pray for the Church... a gift to spend time with the creator of the Universe praying the words He has revealed to us through the Holy Spirit.. If I instead treat it like the most precious thing in my life instead of something to just fit in, and I put God at the center of my day and then put everything else in my calendar, well that's when I am living out our relationship to it's fullest.

Jesus reminds us of that with a simple phrase: “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”  A child is so trusting, aren't they?  Yesterday I got to see my twin nieces.  It doesn't matter how long it's been they run up to me, hug me and ask me to lift them up.  They play with me and of course want to see my phone.    They trust me.  There is joy in their eyes and hearts, a joy at seeing one that they love.  It reminds me of that poster in our lobby at the Church, the one for Food for the Poor, which reminds us of Matthew 25.   When did I see you thirsty?  Whatever you did for the least of these.   When did I see you hungry?  Whatever you did for the least of these.  When did I see naked?  Whatever you did for the least of these.  We are all made in the image of God... every person out there; especially the downtrodden, the widow, the orphan, the refugee, the immigrant, the poor; are not only God's children but to be seen as Christ in the world.  We are challenged to not only receive Christ in the Eucharist, but to go forth and look into the world with his eyes... we should look on those in need of our help with that same joy that my nieces exude when they see someone they love.

When we leave Mass it's not enough to just go home and wait for tomorrow, it's not enough to simply go about our day not thinking about Christ.   We are challenged instead to go forth and live our faith.  That Latin phrase has another part: Lex credendi, lex orendi, lex vivendi.  As we worship, so we believe, so we live.  The way we act in our worship, leads us to believe certain things, and believing certain things leads us to live a certain way.  If we worship in the Mass in a way that shows we believe Jesus is present in the Eucharist, our belief will grow to reflect that.  As our belief grows our lives will change.  We will go forth into the world attempting to feed the poor, give drink to the thirsty, comfort the widow and the orphan, find home and safety for all in peril, house and protect the refugee, and share Christ with every person we meet.   Both readings reflect a simple truth.. all of this requires humility.   It is in being a servant that we emulate Christ the most.  Are you ready to be a servant?  What better heart can Christ fill than the one that reflects His own?

His servant and yours,

"He must increase, I must decrease."