22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (B):
Worship God not only by being hearers but by being doers of His Word;
not only with our lips but above all with works which proceed from a pure heart.
Dear friends, in today’s Mass readings, God wishes to remind us the following important ideas:
- OBSERVE GOD’S LAWS TO LIVE A HOLY (JUST) LIFE.
The necessity of faithful observance of God’s moral law in its entirety in order to live in the presence of the Lord.
- This is why in the 1st reading (Dt 4:1–2, 6–8) Moses told the Israelites: “Observe them carefully, for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations, who will hear of all these statutes” suggesting the universal scope of God’s salvific wisdom.
- And in the Responsorial Psalm: “One who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.” The term “justice” in the Scriptures is equivalent to “holy” and he who “walks blamelessly and does justice; who thinks the truth in his heart and slanders not with his tongue, who harms not his fellow man, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor; by whom the reprobate is despised” is the one who will live in God’s presence.
- DOERS OF THE WORD. DEEDS OF CONVERSION AND OF CHARITY TOWARDS THOSE IN NEED.
- God’s moral law requires not only its knowledge and reception but above all its observance, putting them into works of daily conversion and for the benefit of others. This is what we see in the 2nd reading (James 1:17–18, 21b–22, 27). “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
- PURITY OF INTENTION
In the Gospel, Jesus underlines the importance of the unity between our intention and our action. Every exterior action we carry out must be the manifestation of our interior religious motives and not a mere exterior rite to do what is commanded, falling into the trap of pharisaical legalism and religious formalism: enemies of true worship and love for God.
This is the reason why Our Lord Jesus Christ criticized the Pharisees in today’s Gospel (Mk 7:1–8, 14–15, 21–23), citing Isaiah 9:13:
‘“This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.’ You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”
- With these words, Our Lord wanted to restore the significance of morality in all its intensity and purity by giving primacy to what’s inside man’s “heart”, his ulterior motives. We can do a lot of good things: vocal prayers, acts of piety, works of mercy…but all these must arise from within as exterior manifestations of a pure religious intention: to do them for love of God, for His glory and for the good of all souls.
- If we are not careful in purifying and rectifying our intention, vainglory, pride and vanity could easily seep in and these would defile our actions. Furthermore, we could easily fall into a pharisaical attitude which gives more importance to what is seen by others, and not to what is within; or to a mere exterior fulfillment of a religious rite void of any spiritual involvement: attitudes which Our Lord denounced against the Pharisees of his time.
Dear friends, let us ask God, through the help of Our Lady and St. Joseph, so that we may always strive daily to worship Him not only by being hearers but by being doers of His Word; not only with our lips but above all with works which proceed from a pure heart, always disposed to rectify and purify our intention which is to do all things for his honor and glory and for the good of all souls.
-Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, priest of Opus Dei. CATHOLICS STRIVING FOR HOLINESS. We are also in Facebook: www.facebook.com/CatholicsstrivingforHoliness Hope you like our page and invite your friends as well to do so in order to help more people.
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PHOTO SOURCE: Carl Heinrich Bloch, “Christ mocked by a soldier” in http://40.media.tumblr.com/171d2a9125058c0e7696509ed2a570f1/tumblr_mgow96ep751roedt4o1_1280.jpg