One of the major shifts that occurred with Jesus’ proclamation of the Gospel is that from external realities to internal ones. What do I mean by this? Before Jesus there was a focus on the Law and in particular upon the sacrifices made in the Temple for the remission of sins. With the proclamation of the Gospel Jesus shifts this focus to the individual person. He implicitly tells us that the ritual sacrifices of animals in the Temple are totally useless as far as forgiving our sins and that the essence of forgiveness rests in our heart response to his Word and not in some sort of bloody sacrifice on an altar in a Temple.

This is a major shift in consciousness for the Jews, one that they obviously have great difficulty making judging from the Scriptural evidence, especially those whose entire life and livelihood is centered around Temple sacrifices! Perhaps this makes it a little easier to understand some of the opposition Jesus faced as he preached the Gospel. The focus upon the heart of the person is an important one for us to recognize as well as it can be very easy for us to slip back into all sorts of legalistic rather than heart-focused realities as well.

As we seek to grow as disciples of Jesus let us keep in mind the need to be focused upon our heart’s response to God’s love and mercy and not allow the Devil to misdirect us towards the external practices and understandings of our faith that make it impossible to grow in relationship with God. There is nothing that the Devil enjoys more than seeing us floundering in a sea of laws and legalities when we should be bathing in the light of God’s mercy and love!

Let us never seek to impose our understanding of the faith on others and allow them the freedom to make their journey to God in the way that best suits them. Of course, we have to address sin if that is necessary, but when it is not a matter of sin who are we to decide what way another person should be walking!

Do I tend to impose ‘my way and beliefs’ on others? Am I free enough to admit that there are many ways to follow Jesus’ calling?

Holy Spirit, help me to realize that you tailor-make your graces for each individual and that my way to God does not have to work for anyone else!