Today's Scripture readings [Luke 11:47-54, Romans 3:21-30] tell us why, especially many Catholics, miss the point.
Many Catholics, even those in the Consecrated Life of the Church, are ensnared in a form of legalism in which they have a personality inclination to think linearly and temporally. The need to justify and be justified, themselves, is stronger than and has become confused with the freedom in faith, hope, and love that Jesus manifested as the way to the Father--His Way.
Jesus is quite firm and strong in His warning to those who miss His point. "Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter."
Jesus came, however, not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. This means He came to manifest what is the heavenly law, the law of love.
When some of various faith traditions add to laws and increase them, and worse, become consumed with the level of thinking and living out their lives with what comes down to self-justifying by adherence to laws that were never actually created by God and especially not manifested by Him nor encouraged, mentioned, nor emphasized by Him in HIs own living out of life when on this earth, they not only burden themselves and keep themselves from entering into the fullness of His Real Presence, but their focus misses the point.
Jesus knew in His earthly lifetime and warned about those who speak, write, and insist upon hair-splitting words, facts, and trying to interject their own narcissistic need to justify themselves in-to laws. Some also create new laws in order to justify themselves to themselves as well as to others. These miss the point of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. They miss the point of God is love by placing millstones not only around their own necks, but they tend to first consider the laws they create and multiply, as they think they pertain to other persons who do not accede to the laws they create and desire others to follow.
The laws become so important to them, yet they increasingly are hindered by their own interpretation of laws in attempts to justify their positions and superiority they may claim as a result of the overly or misinterpreted laws. This can lead to their in essence interfering (or being tempted to interfere) with the simplicity and freedom that Jesus desires for others to follow Him in the truth, beauty, and goodness of the mystery of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
We each and all can falter in these aspects of becoming enamored with laws, especially with the appeal of ecclesial laws when some find they can influence and nuance laws already simply stated, or make up laws anew by setting precedent or bloviating repeatedly some notion, or by interpreting laws in the way they desire, in order to justify their positions.
It is not that the laws themselves are the culprits. The millstones do not do damage, do not drown the mind, heart, and spirit in and of themselves. The damage and danger to spiritual life come when a person or many persons begin to add to the millstones [laws], make them heavier by globbing on more stones with concrete, and by hanging them, one atop another, on situations and persons, even upon themselves, thinking the more laws the better. What is worse is when people misinterpret or otherwise use millstones [laws] for purposes not intended nor actually necessary for the work of souls: Love.
People who augment laws and make them into millstones of detrimental outcome surely do so without realizing they themselves are causing the interference with spiritual progression and the freedom to follow Jesus in truth, beauty, and goodness. Mercy, this can be ourselves as culprits!
Jesus saw and sees the problem and expressed it clearly, even forcefully as the warning it is and is meant to be. Certain personality and temperament types seem more prone to try to (and in some cases succeed at minimum to their own detriment) take away the key to knowledge--a knowledge of His Real Presence that is beyond the temporal and ecclesial laws. They do so from unrecognized self-needs, it would seem. They mean well, surely, just as the high priests, scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees in Jesus' time sincerely thought they were doing as required by the law....
However, we know from Jesus' pointing them out to us in His Living Word, that those who place much emphasis and also judge others with emphasis and/or skewed interpretation of laws which they impose upon themselves and others, have some kind of unhealthy need to perceive themselves as superior and righteous--according to their views of the laws.
Jesus made quite clear these legal scholars, creators, promoters, and adjudicators of the temple/religious laws were and are the culprits. He makes clear He desires love, not legalism, as the priority and our path to His Heart. He does not say to abolish the laws but rather to fulfill the holy, spiritual, the mystical, the very temporally applicable law of God Is Love.
Who Is God? Where Is God? What Is God Is Love? How do we remain in His Love? How does the human soul manifest itself as and in His Love? These are more the questions and concerns of which our bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits need to be grasping, focusing upon, and striving to find and live out in holy, Christ-lived answers. It is in faith, not laws--not even well-written and predicated Canon Laws, that our souls are justified in Christ Jesus, in God the Father, in the Holy Spirit: His Real Presence.
An truly, there are some parameters and guides that help us not only as individuals but as the Body of Christ, as well as in our faith traditions and in His Living Word. It is in all these written and accessible but also very much in God's will that we may find His help in remaining in His Love. But it is mostly in and by His Grace and in embracing the theological virtues of faith, hope and love--that we attain the knowledge of which Jesus speaks, and of which we enter into Him now and for all eternity.
Perhaps, lest we think that some of the laws are to be ignored, we may note the Ten Commandments are key laws and have been for ages, and then perfected by Jesus' Greatest Command of Loving One Another. It is best to remind ourselves that we miss the point manifested in Christ and by Christ which rises far beyond where other laws can place us. This point lies far within, as well--deeply within the abode of the Father and Son taking up and consuming, as life and love, within us. Not I who lives, but Christ's Life and Love, lives as One in us.
Basic laws help guide us in our temporal lives and help form our consciences, our minds, our wills. But there comes a place in our soul life's progression when we being to yearn for that which is less tangible, less bounded in temporal means. The soul yearns for that which is not easily scripted and not adjudicated nor embellished nor interpreted by us mere mortals, no matter how brilliant in church legal scholarship, doctrine, or theology we may think we may be. That for which we yearn goes beyond what we are humanly able to expound upon, and that for good reason.
Jesus wants us to enter into His Real Presence in a way that is His Way. This form of entering into Him cannot be secured by even the finest attention to detail or point in Catholic Canon Laws, no matter how beneficial in temporal or pointing to spiritual aspects some laws may indeed be. These church laws may guide and secure a semblance of unity and form in detail through passages in time of mankind--in ways temporally and even attempting to spiritually delineate, other than do the Ten Commandments and Jesus Greatest Commandment of Love.
(As Catherine of Siena gently, knowingly, and smilingly explained to me early on in my own attempts to follow all the various laws and rules in what was then rather new in detail to me of temporal church laws: The soul's seeking and finding its life in Christ is not to be found by following any set rules or formula.)
Regardless how much we can read the very clear words in of what exactly Jesus says in His Living Word, no matter how many ways He speaks, or of what St. Paul and other holy Apostles write, there will always be those who argue the point and will continue to ignore the "woe" of which Jesus warns. There is no explaining nor length of debate that will illuminate those who cannot see.
Thomas Aquinas experienced a profound, spiritual "seeing" toward the end of his life--after years spent consumed in studying, analyzing, developing, and detailing theology and ecclesial laws. In his own conclusion following his great "awakening", he regarded the years and brilliant words written as "mere straw."
All we seekers of his Real Presence can do is to pray and continue on. We must pray that we do not fall to the "woe" of legalism. We must progress in the theological virtues of faith, hope and love, casting out into the deep of the great unknowing of God. Jesus leads; we follow. At and in some phase in our spiritual progression and definitely at death, we will each and all taste of what we might have consumed or more fullness of what we did briefly taste, earlier, while yet on this earth--had it not been for our missing His point.
~Finished another coat of woodwork paint. Went out with daughter and grandson on final day in civilization. We ran the errands, procuring items needed for their household and the allergy shots for both daughter and grandson. He is homeschooled, including in Christian education. Thus, he has flexible scheduling. Being a few years above grade level, helps be able to instruct in various settings, including in car and doctor's office. We returned, finished some tasks, continued on in the daily life routine.
All the while this Catholic consecrated hermit did not think about so much at all the Canon Laws and Institutes of the Church detailing why it is a consecrated Catholic hermit nor of the actual vows professed years ago, but rather pondered the love of Christ for my soul and my soul's love for Christ. I pondered and tried to live out the law of God's love for us and our love in God for one another in each situation, person, and even animal encountered. This morning will load up and return to the desert where I will continue pondering His Real Presence, loving Him, and in truth, beauty, goodness to follow His commands. They are not too complicated--but woe, they are not easy other than when yoked in His All--fully accepting my nothingness to His All.~
God bless His Real Presence in us! Little children, let us love one another but not be ones who stop ourselves or others from entering into knowledge of His Real Presence. Keep the faith, hope, and love in its mystery: alive!
[*Sorry about the above white background on some paragraphs. It is not of my attempting any sort of emphasis. I have tried to remove it, but have not been successful despite various attempts. It is one of those aspects that, thus, is not of particular importance to put more effort into the temporal appearance. Maybe there is something in the thoughts that might be enhanced and helpful. Who knows?]