If we really love Jesus, we will find every possible way to follow the lead of St. John the Baptist, and decrease, as Jesus increases in us. For, in every temple of God--the heart of the disciple--there resides a spiritual war between the humble, faithful disciple of Christ and the idol worshipper of self-made golden calves. Religion, after all, binds us to our ultimate love.
Therefore, in examining our motives for the practice of our Christian religion we must ask this vital question: Am I an obstacle to Jesus Christ?
"Jeroboam thought to himself: 'The kingdom will return to David’s house. If now this people go up to offer sacrifices in the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem, the hearts of this people will return to their master, Rehoboam, king of Judah, and they will kill me.' After taking counsel, the king made two calves of gold and said to the people: 'You have been going up to Jerusalem long enough. Here is your God, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.'" 1 Kings 12:26-32; 13:33-34
How do we turn our faith in Jesus Christ, our practice of the true religion, into a personal power play? How do we manipulate our parish position, our church ministry, our God-given talents, into leverage for notoriety, public acceptance, and influence? How do we distort the Christian message of Love FOR others, into personal benefit for me?
We can only give our own personal answers. And, let's be honest, everybody has at least one.
"They forgot the God who had saved them,
who had done great deeds in Egypt,
Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham,
terrible things at the Red Sea." Psalm 106:6-7, 19-22
To take this one step further, how do we, in the midst of our religion, forget all the good God has done for us? How do we, people of the Incarnate baby Christ, forget the humble gift of Emmanuel? How do we, people of baptism and confirmation, forget the suffering of the Crucified Lord? How do we, people of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, forget the promise of Resurrection and Life?
How? When we worship externally, while holding grudges, drowning in envy, despairing without hope, gossiping in avarice, all the while planting seeds of disunity into the community of Jesus Christ.
"He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.
Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them,
and gave them to his disciples to distribute,
and they distributed them to the crowd." Mark 8:1-10
So, what is the solution to this problem?
It is a repentant return to the Prodigal Father, in a proper Eucharistic perspective, nourished in undeserved Mercy. Remember, religion binds us to what/whom we truly love. Let us return, therefore, to the Love of the One who forgives us undeservedly. Let us remember that He--not we--is the Bread of Life. Let us remember that He is the Head, and we are the Body. He is our Savior, and we are His arms and legs in this world.
We need Him in order to Live...and the world needs us to share Him in our faith, hope, and charity.
Religion, therefore, becomes the bond of God to man, and man back to God, through the Incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ.
If He increases in us, we become less of an obstacle.