With the rift that developed early on between Christ and the Jewish leaders at Jerusalem, and the declaration by Jesus that he had not come to abolish the law but fulfill it; I have to wonder the purpose of those laws and how both Christ and the disciples of the likes of the Pharisees were obedient to the commands. For the purpose of the law, I have to look at who was their declared author. Many of those ancient laws were not civil laws of a government, but the declared commandments of God. How then, if they were Gods commands, could they be violated? How could Jesus and the Jewish authorities come up with two different interpretations? What are lawyers for, but to defend, and define the law. At the core of the commands proclaimed by the Scribes and Pharisees were indeed the wisdom of God, but that wisdom was encased under layers of embellishments to serve Jerusalem’s needs and the desires of its leaders. Like so many laws, they were embellished to meet an agenda, and the truths of the law were contorted to meet the needs of someone other that their Authors. The common desire of those leaders of Judea that is most often reported is building a sense of Nationality, The Pharisees had buried within those laws an agenda of cultivating a Jewish identity. Along with that identity was the fact that the Temple was an economic engine for the region, and that benefited the leaders of both Jerusalem and Rome. It is the sense of nationality or identity though that I find most interesting. That issue of manipulating a religion for the purpose of cultivating an identity seems so relevant today. It seems relevant not only in cultivation, but also in disintegration. Laws can be bent in multiple directions depending on ones needs. To build an identity, or dissolve and lessen the same. For that I need not ponder ancient Jewish culture, I can think of modern Catholic culture and the shift of Catholic identity.
In looking at modern Catholic Identity, there seem to be two forces at work shaping it. One comes from the Church itself and its leaders. The other comes from the leaders of the societies that surround that Church. One does think that those from within know well that quote stating; I have not come to abolish but to fulfill. Many within that leadership do know that statement and are obedient to that command. The leaders are human though, and many have their own objectives. I am not passing judgment, but simply stating fact. Doctrines are discerned and that is a tricky business. One can’t help but think many who implemented Vatican-2 did so with the intent of reforming Catholic Identity, perhaps re-shaping it for a modern society. That has its friends and its foes.
The other force shaping Catholic identity are those civil leaders of society, and they have no allegiance to the Catholics they seek to shape. Some might be friend, but many are foes. Many do not seek to shape that Catholic identity, but are on a mission to destroy it. Such is the nature of a democracy, and again no judgment is made. Its just a little thought on Gods commands versus Mans agendas.
There is a question though when considering the laws, and rituals, and customs of a Church. At what point do they simply build a cult, and at what point do they reinforce the faith the Church teaches. It seems there is a balance. Christ’s teaching of course always guides one towards that kingdom of God, and anything that distracts from that mission is quickly discarded. Not everyone who creates laws, or policies, or shapes cultures and identities has that goal in mind. Many times their intentions are quite the opposite. That seems especially relevant in today’s bitter battle between Church and State. When are today’s cultures abolishing laws, and when are they fulfilled? Enough said, that ends this ramble.