Reflections - August 30, 2015

“This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”  Mk. 7:6.
This week’s scripture readings of God’s Word emphasize two attitudes about how we relate with God.
The first attitude is about the rites of purification for example, washing your hands before eating, which for us today is about hygiene, but in terms of my relationship with God it does not tell us much.  All these external rites and many others pure and impure had become manipulated rituals and sometimes dehumanized rituals.  “In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.” Mk. 7:7.  In that same attitude we find the Pharisees with their religious practices consisting of fasts and prayers – which was not bad!  Jesus also did them, but they could become external rites.  “Blind Pharisee, cleanse fist the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.”  Mt. 23:26. 
James the Apostle presents to us in the second reading how our relationship with God should be.  “The pure and faultless religion in the sight of God is this:  visit orphans and widows in need….”.  As you can see there is no need to isolate yourselves from the needs of man.  We have to put our hearts on the needs and the conversion of the world.  That is why we need to work at the parish level in the New Evangelization.  James himself tells us: “Do not limit yourselves to just hear the Word of God deceiving yourselves…..”.  The measure of how I interact with the Lord is if I have an open heart to the needs of my fellow man.
Let us pray to the Lord in the Eucharist that His Word change our hearts so that our external practices will relate with what we believe.  Remember what the Lord says:  “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”  Mt. 6:21.
I leave you with this thought from Pope Francis:  “…….being true to the Word of God demands and total interior change.  It is a radical conversion and a profound transformation of the mind and of the heart.