From last weeks bulletin.
Paul begins with verse 17 of chapter 2 to warn those who are the official teachers of the Law and God’s ways. He does not say that they have no authority to do so, or that their sins make null and void their authority. But he does say, for it is written Because of you the name of God is reviled among the Gentiles (v24). So there is a very real judgement they will incur. Jesus is the good shepherd and is there to take care of the sheep, not be friends of the hired help (Jn 10:11-18). So Jesus makes a commitment to love His sheep. If the hired help does not do their part, there will be justice exacted on them. To avoid this judgement, verses 21-23 gives a brief examination of conscience by which to judge themselves and keep them honest.
Circumcision, to be sure has value, says Paul (v25); not what many expect him to say. The Old Law of circumcision is still in effect, but there is also a warning with it. That warning is that the law is in effect and the blessing and curse are still fully valid (Dt 11:26). We want the blessing, not the curse. That is why Paul warns of not getting circumcision. If you live the law, then fine and good. But Paul explains that the circumcision of the heart is just as much a blessing. Jesus will bless and fulfill every promise of circumcision as if they were physically circumcised. This is the graciousness of God.
So the Old Law is not null and void; as if we can sin to our heart’s content and still be saved. No. The circumcision of the heart that Paul talks about is based on Jesus’ words that, when what comes out of a person, that is what defiles. From within people, from their hearts come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile (Mk 7:20-23). The thoughts we harbor become our actions, thoughts of murder, envy, adultery and so on. The circumcision of the heart is when we have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). When we have these things in our hearts, we will do God’s holy will.
Just because we have these things does not mean that we will never fall. After all, Adam and Eve had them before they fell. At one point in time, they had to choose sin, even when they still had those gifts. That is why it is important to use our free will wisely. Either way, if all we have is evil in our hearts, then all that can come out is evil. In a similar way, if a jar only has water in it, then all that can come out of it is water. If that water is dirty, then all that can come out of that jar is dirty water.
Sins are from what is inside. They are not merely an action. Some sins are because we have not learned yet. But most sins come from the inside, which motivates our actions. So the act may still be bad, but it starts with our interior life. That is why it is important to go to confession often, before a mortal sin is committed. Confession can help reduce the build-up of thoughts and feelings harbored in the soul and prevent a mortal sin from happening. So even if we do not have a mortal sin on our soul, it is still good to go and confess the sins or interior thoughts and feelings held on to. It can help us let go of them and be healed.