In today’s first reading, St. Paul reassures the Galatians who were counted among the Gentiles. But while the laws as laid down by Moses (the Mosaic law) fulfilled a role, its adherents put more emphasis on “form” rather than on “substance,” and they believed that salvation could be attained exclusively by believers who fulfilled the law to the letter. The scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ time did not understand that what mattered more was their faith and the state of their hearts. They were blind to the freedom that Christ offered to those who believed in him. Gentiles and Jews are co-equal heirs, as long as they “hear the Word of God and observe it” (Luke 11:28) with their hearts.
Christian traditions, rituals, and symbolism hold an important place in our faith life, but Christ tells us that more than mere observance of rules and rituals, God delights in a people who listen to His voice and who model their lives after His teachings, acting with kindness, humility, mercy, and concern for others.
What is the state of my faith? Do I take pains to know my Savior through reading and meditation on Scripture? Do I recite a novena to a saint during the Mass, failing instead to listen and meditate on the gospel that chronicles Christ’s own words and his life? Today, let us resolve to put more “substance” rather than “form” to the day-to-day practice of our faith.