In today’s Gospel, Jesus presents a forceful challenge. He confronts overzealousness for traditional rules that may limit the actual realization of God’s love. We live in a Church built upon tradition, sometimes making it easier to focus on the rules than love of God and neighbor. This tendency might become fiercer if we feel threatened in our beliefs.

Christ calls us back to our grounding faith in God. This faith, though grounded, also spurs us forward. Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, head of the Jesuits, often calls us to go to the peripheries where it may be dangerous or scary. Christ reminds us that the Holy Spirit, planted deep in our hearts, travels with us to those very  places

In a February 2012 interview, then Cardinal Bergoglio stated, “We need to come out of ourselves and head for the periphery. We need to avoid the spiritual sickness of a Church that is wrapped up in its own world: when a Church becomes like this, it grows sick. It is true that going out onto the street implies the risk of accidents happening, as they would to any ordinary man or woman. But if the Church stays wrapped up in itself, it will age. And if I had to choose between a wounded Church that goes out onto the streets and a sick withdrawn Church, I would definitely choose the first one.”  His words and those of Jesus inspire these questions today:

Do I go to the periphery, guided by the Holy Spirit?  Do I adamantly cling to human rules, or open myself to God’s love and presence?  Do I share this love with others, opening myself to the danger it presents?  Am I honoring God with both my lips and my heart?

—Ken Homan, S.J. is a Jesuit brother from the  Wisconsin Province. He is currently studying history and theology at Fordham University, New York.