It is striking how children pick-up mannerisms and attitudes from their parents. There was a time when I would constantly tease one of our altar servers, an eight-year-old whose father is a lawyer. One day, he got fed up with my teasing and threatened me, “I will sue you in court!” Taken aback by his vehemence I promised him that I would not tease him again. Seemingly unconvinced about my resolve, he shot back at me, “Father, better put that in black and white!” I was amused at his “legal” terms which he must have picked up from lawyer-father.
When we refer to the law, we speak of putting things in black and white. Everything has to be written out in clear terms. “Black and white” refers to the rigid distinctions between two points which we want to measure or evaluate. It is the standard and criteria by which we judge whether or not our actions are correct, legal or moral.
However, we cannot rely on simply the law to measure our Christianity. For example, although we fulfill the law by hearing Mass every Sunday, it does not mean we are good Christians. Unfortunately, says St. Bernard, the person who loves is not satisfied with measuring his love or evaluating his manner of loving because the greatest measure of love is to love without measure. The law gives us a chance to measure our loving. But when our Christianity is bound by the “black and white” something is severely lacking in our Christian exercise.
Let us look back to the times we have allowed ourselves to be enslaved by the “black and white.” All we had done was the minimum. The greatest measure of love is to love for the maximum, without measure, and the greatest measure of love is to aspire.
Let us not be satisfied with merely fulfilling the law. Let us express our Christian commitment beyond that which the law requires.
GOING BEYOND THE LAW
Jesus In My Heart