Tuesday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time, August 25
The Very Essence of Our Faith, Which We Are Called to Live Each Day, Is to Emulate God’s Love, a Selfless Giving of Ourselves for the Good of Others.
“You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence” – words which our Lord uses to express His displeasure at the duplicity and insincerity practiced by the scribes and Pharisees.
And we can draw a parallel to this within our own lives, especially when we think about our own personal health issues, for we know only too well that life truly can be unpredictable at times. Think about how some diseases can sneak up on us and catch us completely by surprise!
Many cancers, for instance, can go undetected for several months, if not longer, while the affected individual has been going about his or her life as if nothing was wrong, totally unaware of the sickness which lies within. This is why the medical community stresses the importance of regular physical exams and blood tests.
They urge us not to focus only on how we may appear on the outside, but also to be aware of the danger signs which may be lurking within, and this is only too true today due to the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19!
The scribes and Pharisees who were opposing Jesus had a similar problem. Only theirs was not so much physical as it was spiritual. It was a disease called hypocrisy – a disease which was eating away at their souls which they could not see!
Jesus did not challenge them because they were too religious, but because they were out of balance and their souls were spiritually ill. By focusing so much on external piety and so little on their inner spirituality, they were leading others away from the true intent of the Law about which they preached.
Jesus’ warning is meant for us as well. But we shouldn’t read it as a condemnation or judgment. It is really intended for us to reflect upon our inner spirituality – in other words, to examine what is in our hearts so that we can be whole, so that we can be spiritually healthy.
As we begin to reflect upon our own lives, we may ask ourselves, “Am I opened to the will of God in my life, so that I may experience the gifts and the fruits of the Holy Spirit, or do I find myself shutting myself off to God’s grace at times, especially when I need His help the most?”
Am I patient and understanding with others, considerate of their needs and compassionate with a selfless love, or do I allow small resentments to accumulate within me, all the while feeding pride, arrogance and selfishness, until my soul becomes sickened with the cancerous disease of sin?
The only way for us to become and remain spiritually clean inside is to ensure that we remain focused on Jesus Himself – focusing our attention on the relationship which He invites each of us to have with Himself, allowing His Spirit to work within us, so that we may grow in our loving and holy intimacy with God.
When we take the time to open ourselves up to His Love – as indescribable as His Love is – and when we allow ourselves to be filled with that Love, our prayers are then lifted to a whole new level of worship!
For we find ourselves in a truly deeper and much more profound relationship with our Savior. And we begin to truly look upon His Father as our Father – a very intimate and Loving Father, and we learn to depend upon Him in ways that we never did before.
And, just as importantly, we begin to find ourselves loving the people around us as God loves us – with the selfless Love of the Cross which can change hearts and bring Heaven down to Earth!
When you and I look at our young children and grandchildren today, we see in them an innocence, a pureness of heart and soul which each of us longs to relive in our own lives – for it was a time in our past when we were filled with the awe and majesty of the God who loves us beyond description and the promise of an eternity beyond imagination!
In our youthful innocence, we were clean inside and out. And that is what our Lord is asking of us today – to re-embrace that purity of heart, that incorruptibility of soul.
Even Paul was warning his listeners in our First Reading today about not being seduced by false teachings that can undermine that innocence and purity of faith which they had received. Theirs was a faith newly born, a faith freely embraced, for it was a faith which offered hope – a faith filled with a selfless love.
In Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians, he writes, “Let no one deceive you in any way…To this end God has also called you through our Gospel to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught…”
And they were not unlike us when we first learned about our faith and the wonders of God and His promises. But time never slows down nor waits for anyone. The innocence of our youth begins to give way to the seductions of secularism and worldly pleasures. And sadly, for many, the voice of God is no longer heard.
But even in the midst of our Lord’s rebuke to the Pharisees, He is teaching each of us what we must do to once again hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, the Eternal God guiding and protecting us on our life’s journey, “…cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.”
God sees into the heart of each and every one of His children, and He knows us better than we know ourselves. We may no longer be like the innocent children we once were, but we do know what our faith teaches us, and we are aware of what God is expecting from each of us.
We have come to know and understand that our God is a God of Love, and everything He does flows from His Love for you and me. And the very essence of our faith which you and I are called to live each day is to emulate His Love – through our love of God and a virtuous love of neighbor. For a truly Christ-like love is unconditional, for it is a selfless giving of oneself for the good of others.
When we look at ourselves in a mirror, do we see ourselves as hypocrites, not unlike the scribes and Pharisees in today’s Gospel? Or do we, as faithful Christians, allow the Love of God to truly transform our lives, so that our reflection emulates the beauty which is Christ?
Since God knows the state of our hearts better than we, let us pray for the grace to be like children – innocent, pure and joyful, with a selfless love for one another, always opened to the wonders of God’s Love, always opened to the marvels of the eternal gift which awaits each of us in the wonder of the life which is yet to come!
And may we take to heart the words of Saint Paul, “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” †
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
- “Let no one deceive you in any way…To this end [God] has also called you through our Gospel to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught…” (2 Thessalonians 2:3a, 14-15a)
- “If then my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins…” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
- “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.” (Matthew 23:25-26)
- “[You] have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity.” (Matthew 23:23c)
- “LORD, you have probed me, you know me: you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar. You sift through my travels and my rest; with all my ways you are familiar.” (Psalm 139:1-3)
- “So now, O children, listen to me; instruction and wisdom do not reject! Happy the man who obeys me, and happy those who keep my ways.” (Proverbs 8:32-33)
- “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
- “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.” (1 John 4:11)
- “Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
- “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
Prayer for the Day
“Eternal and Most Loving Father,
I submit my entire self to Your holy will.
All that I am today, transform me into Your servant;
living Your Truth amongst my brothers and sisters.
“Thank You for imbuing me with Your Holy Spirit,
who guides me to live a life of righteousness,
enabling me to be all that You desire me to be,
so that I may give my best in service to Your children.
“Forgive me for my past failures,
rejecting the image of Christ in those around me.
In selfishness, I held back Your Love
and fell short in living the virtue of selfless charity.
“Fill my heart with humility,
so that I may always fulfill Your will,
imitating the life of Your Son, Jesus,
giving love without counting the cost.
“In Jesus’ Name, I pray for this graceAnonymous
for the glory of Your Divine Majesty,
in the Presence of the Holy Spirit,
and for the well-being of my soul for all eternity. Amen.”