“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” (Mt 23: 23-24)

Here the Lord is warning me about focusing on secondary issues, while losing sight of the whole point of God’s law, or “the weightier matters” that are “justice and mercy and faith.” It’s easy to slip into this; to become very meticulous about some aspect of living our Tradition, say, of reading all the preparatory prayers before Holy Communion, or all the morning and evening prayers on a daily basis, – while being complacent about, say, an outstanding resentment I am harboring in my heart, against a certain person or people. Perhaps the mere mention of them irritates or angers me, but this fact doesn’t burden me nearly as much as those times when I skipped some of my prayers for this or that reason. Or maybe I’m a model, church-going parishioner, very active in church-work, – but on a daily basis I am crippled, in my heart, by merely-human fears, say, of financial insecurity or of human opinion, rather than letting God be “really” present in my life.

Instead of continuously “swallowing” these “camels” and schlepping them around, because I somehow think I’m A-OK with God as long as I’ve said all my prayers or gone to church, I need (no, not to start neglecting prayer or church-going), to take a look at these ugly “camels,” and let God cast them out by the grace of His “justice and mercy and faith.” Lord, open my eyes to the “camels” I may be ignoring, while focusing on the “easy” stuff, or the “gnats.”

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