A Madrid AP news item caught my attention over the weekend. It reported that the emergence of Swine Flu has necessitated a new rule: “Don’t Kiss the Saint.”
For hundreds of years visitors to one of Roman Catholicism’s holiest shrines— claiming to hold the remains of the Apostle James—have hugged or kissed a statue Spain’s patron saint.
The cathedral’s dean said no signs have posted the rule. But an usher who stands behind the main altar—quietly passes the message on.
Spaniards customarily greet one another with kisses, on each cheek, but now have been asked to shake hands. So the rule is not easy in a culture where people customarily greet one another with kisses on each cheek. One Spanish citizen likened it to putting a fence around the countryside.
Even the health minister was caught breaking the rule. After asking the public to hold their kisses, the public health minister, greeted a colleague with two kisses prior to their meeting on swine flu.
The item reminded me of something that Moses said that I’ve often thought about. As he rehearsed the law that God had given to Israel from Sinai, in preparation for their entrance into the promised land, Moses made it sound like the law God was giving his people was very doable (Deut 30:10-16). He reminded them that God had not asked them to keep laws that they didn’t know about. But rather he was being very open with them in explaining how to love and be loyal to him and one another.
Doesn’t sound much more difficult than, “Don’t kiss the Saint” if you don’t want to catch or spread Swine Flu. The same seems to hold even from a New Testament perspective that reminds us that what really matters is “To love God with all of our hearts, and our neighbor as ourselves.” Who doesn’t get that?
In addition, God gives His Spirit to those who trust in His Son. He offers to live his life through us as we invite his presence in every thought, action and decision. He even declares us to be in right relationship with himself in exchange for our belief in his Son.
But there’s one thing He doesn’t do:
He doesn’t make us good…
Not yet… or at least not with our moment by moment invitation (and surrender) to His Spirit… to do in us– what we cannot do for ourselves…
Let’s think together about the implications of “being declared right with God through Christ… but not being made good…
Could that be why it is so hard to remember to do something (like loving God and one another) that seems as simple as not kissing the saint– for our own good?