REFLECTION FOR TODAY
August 29, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
He summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” Mk. 7:14-15
Jesus was never tired in condemning the hypocrisy of the Scribes and the Pharisees. Our gospel reference above formed part of Jesus rebuke on the Pharisees for their criticism on the disciples on ritual cleaning.
The Pharisees seem to make a huge deal about this fact. The Pharisees think that holiness is something that you obtain by scrupulous external observance of the laws and customs of the times. But they failed to see the importance of what was within.
Many believers make a “show” of piety. Christian life is an affair of the heart. The external gestures must be a expression of the love that springs from the heart, if not, it becomes pure hypocrisy. And from our lived experience, Christianity today has degenerated into ‘theatrical show’. Everybody claims to be a believer but obviously only few are true followers of Christ.
Jesus also points out the types of evil that come from within. “From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within, and they defile”.
There is no doubt that Jesus will be much more disappointed today to see that his followers are more hypocritical than the Pharisees and the Scribes. We are all hypocrites when we suffocate the word of God in our heart by living a ‘Christianity of theatre’; external observance of the Law.
What’s in your heart? When you spend time alone and quietly look at your life, what do you see? What is it that makes up your interior life? We hope that when looking at us Jesus would not complain, “This people pay me lip service, but their hearts is far from me”. We are meant to understand from the gospel reference today what true religion is. It is not simply the scrupulous external observance of rules, laws, traditions, and rituals.
It is having to do with a loving, obedient relationship with God expressed in a concrete way by recognizing His presence in our brothers and sisters especially the most needy and rendering them loving and humble service. However, Prayers, rituals, Sacraments, and religious practices only help us to practice this true religion in our daily lives.
Reflect, today, upon that which is within. Know that any sin in your heart must be acknowledged, confessed, and purged. Only when that is done can you meet God who dwells within. Only then can you allow God to transform your exterior from His presence in your soul.
Lord, please do come into my heart. Set my heart on fire with love for You. Purge my heart of all sin and allow Your divine presence to shine forth for all to see. Jesus, I trust in You.