By Lisa Mladinich
Today’s Gospel finds Jesus making a strong, authoritative statement: “Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.”
A statement like that can give our guilty hearts pause because we’re pretty sure we’re stepping all over God’s laws in little ways, throughout the day. Yet, in a practical sense, as well as an eternal one, God’s rules are our ticket to freedom. Tucked inside each of them is a treasure that can be discovered only by living out that law in the ordinary moments of our days—or at least trying.
God honors our small efforts, blesses them, and makes them bear beautiful fruit–in spite of our imperfections. He delights in seeing us toddle in his direction, as we learn to walk in grace. In fact, our weak attempts to follow the trail of hidden treasures hidden in his commandments leads to more and more life, more freedom, and more joy. To live in his laws is to live in abundance. On the other hand, to be “free” of God’s rules is to lose our way and down-spiral into darkness and isolation.
I know this because I lived it. In 1992, at the age of 33, I hit rock-bottom. Wounded by a sexual assault in my twenties, struggling in my career as an actress, and enduring the monthly devastation of infertility in my marriage–all the beauty was bleeding out of my life, and I was deeply angry with God. To me, his voice and his presence had gone missing, just when I needed him most. Nothing was working for me, my relationships were in shambles, and I hated God with a red-hot, righteous rage that I thought nothing could quench or heal. In an agony of emptiness and pain, I embarked on a literal and spiritual journey that was not intended to bring me closer to God. I was escaping my life, rejecting religion as a meaningless burden, and running blind into darkness.
But God met me in that darkness, first sending his mother to me through a string of women, like the beads of a Rosary, who ministered to my broken heart. Mary’s efforts drew me back to the sacrament of reconciliation, which I had avoided for many years, and the healing love I found in the confessional unchained my soul and brought a stunning and almost overwhelming flood of beauty, creativity, and joy into my life. From that point on, I hungered for God’s laws, and I reveled in the mystery of his holy will. Clearing out the ugly cacophony of so many years of unconfessed sin allowed me to hear his gentle voice and rest in his love. His laws were no longer an empty set of rules but a treasure map, and zeal for his ways set my heart on fire.
Question: How have you found greater freedom and joy in God’s laws?
About the Author:
Lisa Mladinich is a Catholic wife and mom, and the host of Shalom World TV’s WOMAN: Strong Faith, True Beauty. She is the best-selling author of True Radiance: Finding Grace in the Second Half of Life and a new prayer book for adults and children: Heads Bowed: Prayers for Catholic School Days. Lisa speaks on a variety of topics, including authentic beauty and aging, praying with children, Mary as a role model, friendship, conversion, and teaching the Catholic faith to children. She can be reached through her website, AmazingCatechists.com.