Gospel: Lk 11:42-46
A curse is on you, Pharisees! To the temple you give a tenth of all, including mint and rue and other herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. These ought to be practiced, without neglecting the other obligations. A curse is on you, Pharisees, for you love the best seats in the synagogues and to be greeted in the marketplace. A curse is on you, for you are like tombstones of the dead which can hardly be seen; people don’t notice them, and make themselves unclean by stepping on them.”
Then a teacher of the law spoke up and said, “Master, when you speak like this, you insult us, too.” And Jesus answered, “A curse is on you also, teachers of the law. For you prepare unbearable burdens and load them on the people, while you yourselves do not move a finger to help them.
Let us imagine the following scenario. Two mothers each give birth to a blind baby. One of them sincerely believes that blindness is the worst thing that can happen to a human being and, therefore, out of misguided pity, is very much tempted to kill her baby (this is called “mercy killing” or euthanasia). But she refrains from killing her baby because of God’s commandment, “You shall not kill.” The other mother is extremely saddened by her baby’s blindness, but the thought of killing it never enters her mind. In fact, she would be horrified at such a thought. Which mother really loves her child?
In today’s first reading, the apostle Paul is trying to make a similar point. Those who are led by the law and nothing else obey it under constraint—and thus end up not really obeying it. Those who go beyond the law and obey the law not because it is the law but because they are moved by the love of God, then obey the law spontaneously and easily. They are interiorly moved (motivated comes from the same linguistic root) by the Holy Spirit, who gives them the inner energy to live out the law spontaneously and easily.