In our contemporary society there exists an unhealthy distinction between law and charity. In current political debates we see this in relation to the question of immigration. And even in the Church we have, not least in recent months, seen it in relation to the question of the reception of Holy Communion by those who have been divorced and taken up a second union. Yet at the heart of this morning’s gospel we discover anew the fundamental connection between law and charity, to the end that we can say: when a false distinction is drawn between them, each is reduced in its essential importance and particular value. Indeed, with the Psalmist we affirm: “Mercy and truth and met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85: 10).
There is a contemporary trend to view ‘tradition’ as an ugly word. In society, where many civil and political institutions are portrayed as backward and where the thought of being ‘establishment’ is deemed detrimental to popularity or success. And in the Church, where the ambient public culture has made inroads so as to polarize everything as either new or old, good or bad, exciting or dull, creating a seismic shift in the perceptions and expectations of many of our fellow citizens.
In fact, tradition properly understood is an essential element of the Christian life.. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that because Almighty God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, ‘Christ must be proclaimed to all nations and individuals, so that this revelation may reach to the ends of the earth’ (CCC 74). The transmission of divine revelation, the gospel of Christ, is thus constitutive of the Church’s mission, proclaimed as it is in the words of the profession of faith, and the actions of our lives. Our ‘I believe’ is the starting point of the Church’s proclamation of the gospel to the world, which is why it is those words that we first confess as we are fused to the life of Christ in the sacramental action of the font. Our personal but not individual proclamation of the apostolic faith is not an inconsequential or private act of devotion, but is supremely ecclesial, interrelated to the life and mission of the entire Church.