Keeping it Simple
(6th Sunday of Easter: Acts 15:1-2 and 22-29; Rev. 21:10-23; John 13:23-29)
Compared to Lourdes and Fatima, the message of Our Lady of La Salette is long and appears complex. Still, it is basically quite simple.
In the early Church, as described in today’s first reading, the situation had seemingly become very complex, due to the influx of gentile converts to the Christian way of life and faith. Some were convinced that these new believers had to convert first to Judaism. At the “Council of Jerusalem,” as it is sometimes called, an elegant solution was found, a minimum set of conditions, decided not by the power of reason alone, or by majority vote. We read, “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us, not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities.”
At La Salette, Mary selected a few such necessities: personal prayer, Sunday worship, respect for the Lord’s name, the discipline of Lent.
In the early Church, anyone taking the basic requirements seriously would, of course, not stop there. So too at La Salette. It is a fact of human nature that, when we settle for the minimum, even that in due time gets neglected. The minimum is a foundation of sorts, but a foundation on which nothing is built will sooner or later crack and disintegrate.
In the gospel Jesus says, “Whoever loves me will keep my word.” This is another way of saying the same as above. Love of Christ is the foundation of the Christian way of life, but “keeping his word” is a sign of the genuineness of that love and the strength of our personal commitment to him. And yet it all ultimately very simple—follow him in love, learn to know his will, and seek to carry it out.
Experience teaches that this is easier said than done. This is why St. Paul in many of his Letters takes the Christians to task for their failure to understand the implications of their faith. 1 Cor. 13, (“Love is patient, love is kind,” etc.) for example, is so beautiful in itself that we can forget that Paul wrote this because the Christians of Corinth were not making the connection between faith and life.
La Salette also helps us make that same kind of connection. Pretty simple, really.