4 August, Thursday — The Law Written in Our Hearts

Aug 4 – Memorial for St. John Mary Vianney, priest

In his youth, John Mary Vianney (1786-1859) taught other children their prayers and catechism. As a priest, was assigned to a parish which suffered from very lax attendance. He began visiting his parishioners, especially the sick and poor, spent days in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, did penance for his parishioners, and led his people by example. Crowds came to hear him preach, and to make their reconciliation because of his reputation with penitents.

He has been declared patron saint for all priests.

  • Patron Saint Index

Jer 31:31-34
Mt 16:13-23

I will write my Law in their hearts.

This week in our Catechism class, we started looking at Docat. Docat is the blue book which contains topics on the Catholic Social Teachings. If you find the chance, I encourage you to read it.

Docat shares a quote from Albert Schweitzer, who was a missionary doctor and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. He said, “Again and again I wonder about this: There are more than thirty million laws worldwide to enforce the Ten Commandments.”

Even until now, I’m in awe at the universality of our Faith. God really wrote His Laws in everyone’s heart. Looking at the Code of Hammurabi from thousands of years ago, the prohibitions against theft, slander, making amends, and many others are not much different from what we have today. History has shared that mankind has been (more or less) consistent with what we think is wrong and right.

What’s even more amazing is that God not only gave us the Law, he also instilled in us, and continues to teach us, about justice and mercy. In many laws, the intent behind an act determines the person’s culpability. Many hearts broke for Jean Valjean from Les Miserables because we questioned whether it was right for him to have been imprisoned when the reason he stole bread was to feed his nephews and nieces. We knew from the bottom of our hearts that not all instances of breaking the laws should be treated equally. We recognize that even though there is a law, the law has to be moved by charity.

I think this is the fullness of the Law that God has written in our hearts. It’s the Law of love. It needs discernment and compassion in order for it to be fully understood and enacted. It also needs two more things: One, that we recognize that we need to make amends for our transgressions and two, that the law-breaker should be given the chance to start over again, and to reintegrate back to society.

If we reflect on the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the definitions of mortal and venial sins, we might discover that the laws of society, the concepts of culpability, making amends, and being reintegrated back to society are not so far off. God looks at the situations we are in when we committed those transgressions, and only God can really know the full culpability we have to bear. And he forgives, and allows us to make penance, and start again.

This is not to say that we turn a blind eye to those that are objectively wrong. We still need to call out when objectively wrong actions are being done, but we shouldn’t brand people who commit objectively wrong acts as evil. We should take into consideration the circumstances. That is why we should always ask God for the gift of Wisdom, and for him to help us to be charitable.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)

Prayer: Lord, you said that you will give us a new heart. Please nurture our hearts where you have written your Law so can live out those laws with love.    

Thanksgiving: Thank you God, my Father, for writing your Law in everyone’s heart. That shows that we have a lot in common with everyone.      

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