Tuesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time, February 11
May Our Prayers and Our Deep Gratitude for God’s Love Flow from the Depths of Our Heart and Encompass Our Entire Being, Filled As It Is with the Very Presence of the Eternal God Himself.
“My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the LORD. My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.” – a yearning of the heart, a thirsting and a hunger of the soul, expressed by our psalmist today for an intimate, a holy and righteous relationship with the God whose Love for us is unconditional and without measure.
In almost every aspect of life, as a human species, we can find ourselves, at times, becoming so wrapped up in the details of what it is that we are trying to accomplish that we can oftentimes forget the basic premise or rationale for the activity itself.
And so it is with our faith. Sometimes, people can become so detail oriented when it comes to ministry or mission, some tend to forget what the ministry or mission is supposed to be all about – first and foremost, the greater honor and glory of Almighty God – the God who has created us and formed us in our mother’s womb, the God who strengthens us and gives us every good gift in this journey which you and I travel throughout our lifetime.
Today, we have two very different examples of piety in the Scriptures – one good and one bad, one righteous and one spiritually destructive. There is Solomon who gets it right, and there are the Pharisees and scribes who get it all wrong.
Let us reflect upon both, and better understand what is happening in today’s Readings:
Solomon has just completed building the Temple of the Lord, a magnificent structure built on the highest point in the city, with its gates, its porticoes and its courtyards. It was truly a magnificent edifice! And, if we think about it, Solomon was probably very pleased as he looked at what he was able to accomplish for his God.
But for all that, he does not point to himself; rather, he points to God. And he gets it right when he says, “If the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain you, how much less this temple which I have built!”
Solomon understood that you cannot place God in a box, much less a Temple. God is so much bigger than all that, infinitely grander than the human mind can ever possibly imagine or envision!
By contrast, that is what the Pharisees and the scribes have tried to do; they have tried to put God in a box, for their box was the remaking of God into the image which satisfied their way of thinking. And Jesus was very quick to point this out to them, “You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition…You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.”
This is where we see the big difference between true religion and religiosity, which is an excessive piety which can sometimes become obtrusive, especially when forced upon others.
The Pharisees were a prime example of religiosity, for they became so wrapped up in the details of religious practice that they lost sight of the One for whom those religious practices were directed. They became so wrapped up in the work of the Lord that they were no longer able to see the Lord in the work they were doing, and they misled others through their blindness and arrogance.
No matter where you or I find ourselves in the journey of faith which we are traveling, we have to be very careful not to try and place God into a box which WE have fashioned! Sometimes, we can try to fool ourselves by saying that if I do this, then I can expect God to do that – as if we could somehow manipulate God.
There are many in today’s culture who attempt to remake God into an image which is pleasing to them, placing God into a box that they have fashioned. It is an unrealistic image, for it becomes an image based upon the concept of relativism, where the only truth that matters is the truth which they create for their own self-benefit, oftentimes at the expense of someone else’s happiness or well-being.
And the sad epitaph that we can read from such behavior, which is lacking in any real charity or lacking in acts of selfless love for others – is the fact that secular truth without compassion is oftentimes the hammer which destroys!
For those who embrace that form of thinking, they fail to recognize the constancy of God – for they have forgotten what is written in the Letter to the Hebrews, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” The Commandments and the Natural Law of God governing our moral and ethical behavior are constant and unchanging.
In the end, the purpose of religious piety is not to be seen as a way of gaining favors from God. Rather, its purpose is to strive for individual holiness and to develop a more intimate relationship of love, without any strings attached, with our God who loves each of us unreservedly and who calls each of us into oneness with Himself.
The contrasting image of Solomon and the Pharisees in today’s Scriptures help us to keep all that in focus, as we reflect upon our own individual walks of faith.
Like Solomon in all his wisdom, may we desire to approach God with heartfelt gratitude and sincere humility. As the wise Solomon’s voice rang out in the newly dedicated Temple, may our prayers and our deep sense of appreciation flow from the depths of our hearts and encompass our entire being, filled as it is with the very Presence of the Eternal God Himself!
And may our life of piety emulate that of our Savior – a piety of selfless love and humble service to others whom our lives touch. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the LORD. My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.” (Psalm 84:3)
- “I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus. I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12b-14)
- “Better one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere. Better the threshold of the house of my God than a home in the tents of the wicked.” (Psalm 84:11)
- “If the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain you, how much less this house which I have built! Regard kindly the prayer and petition of your servant, LORD, my God, and listen to the cry of supplication which I, your servant, utter before you this day.” (1 Kings 8:27b-28)
- “Whoever says, ‘I know [God],’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him…whoever claims to abide in him ought to live just as [Jesus] lived.” (1 John 2:4, 6)
- “Jesus responded (to the Pharisees and scribes] ‘…You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition…You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.’” (Mark 7:6a, 8, 13)
- “Do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that you may, according to his word, prosper, and may enter in and possess the good land which the LORD promised on oath to your fathers.” (Deuteronomy 6:18)
- “And we receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.” (1 John 3:22-23)
- “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching.” (Hebrews 13:8-9a)
- “…Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” (John 14:23)
Prayer for the Day
“Lord God, Creator of Heaven and Earth,
You called us out of nothingness,
and created us in Your own Image.
You filled us with Your own life-giving Spirit,
inviting us to have a share in Your own Divinity,
so that we may be called Your spiritual sons and daughters.
“We thank you for the gift of life
and for the blessings You bestow upon us this day.
Help us to always stand in awe
at the Presence of Your Holy Majesty,
so that we may always sing the praises of Your Glory
in all that we do throughout life.
“Truly, all things come from You,
And everything that is – was once nothing.
From the depths of Your Infinite Love,
You called us into being as Your children.
We worship You, O Lord, from the very depths of our existence,
for in all that we are and have become, we forever owe to You. Amen.”Anonymous