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ISAIAH 1:10.16-20 PSALM 50:8-9.16-17.21 MATTHEW 23:1-12 We come to church daily to worship God especially during Mass. Is it possiblethat when we come to church to worship, God could be covering his divine eyes out of disgust for our worship? We may not imagine such a scenario but this is the exact image that today's First Reading places before us this morning. What do you normally do when you see or hear something disgusting? The best you can do is to walk away from the disgusting situation not wanting to be associated with it. The First Reading examines the inter play of sin and sacrifice, asserting that one can negate the efficacy of the other. This is not a new theme because even today's Psalm calls into question Israel's worship which had sacrifices that took the place of the true worship of the living God.

Though God is disgusted by the worship of the people, what is important to notice here is that the people are described as appropriately pious. They are making sacrifices, they are attending to their religious obligations. These verses do not accuse them of worshipping other gods. They are law-abiding abiding worshippers of Yahweh.. or at least they think they are-Isaiah 1:10-15. This section of Isaiah Chapter One contrasts the care that the people at that time gave to their liturgical practices with their disregard for virtues like love, humility, listening and mercy. They heavily invested financially to buy bulls, sheep and goats to be offered as sacrifices but God does not listen to them or even look at them because they have not yet aligned their practices with the ethics embodied in their liturgical rituals. Is this situation different from ours today? Does our liturgy match with our practices outside it? Today's First Reading reminds us that liturgy creates an ethical world view governed by love, humility, mercy and listening and inclusivity. The voice of God is reminding us that God does not listen if our religious life is only defined by our liturgical practices devoid of virtues.

As we reflect on this passage, we should know that it does not say that liturgy is evil, unnecessary or insignificant. Instead, the passage invites us to experience liturgy through the eyes of those who need our love, our listening or even our actions of good will wherever we are with them.

What do our hymns sound like to someone who life is on the brink of destitution?

Do our prayers evoke positive anger in the family of the woman and her child who does not feel safe in their home? Will our fasting and preaching this Lenten season bring hope to the family that lost their loved ones to carelessness of others and make us not to be indifferent but concerned in such situations?

We still have hope, all is not lost as long as we carry the message and the practice of liturgy with us when relating with others in any place we will be.


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