29th August 2021
AUTHENTIC WORSHIP: IN AND OUT
Deuteronomy 4:1‐2, 6‐8
James 1:17‐18, 21‐22, 27
Mark 7:1‐8, 14‐15, 21‐23
The Jews have the tradition of ritual purification of hands, cups, kettles, etc. They are so concerned about being clean and blameless before God. They have identified many situations, which would render them unclean: foods, lepers, woman after childbirth, and the ritually unpurified hands and cooking and dining implements. Unfortunately, since according to the evaluation of Jesus, the Jewish leaders were hypocrites and selfish, they have reduced ritual purification to the level of the externals only, devoid of any internal cleansing. They did not mind if the person is a public sinner, provided he has done the ritual cleansing, and therefore, worthy to take part in the public worship.
A human being is composed of body and soul. But since the soul is invisible, many do not give attention to it. We take care of our bodies by eating healthy foods, exercising and by beautifying it. Yet we do not exert any effort to do the same with our soul. In such a case, we become less human, because a true human being is the healthy combination and balance of the body and soul. Taking less attention on one area reduces the integrity of our human life. Just as we condemn as less human the condition of those living in abject poverty and destitution, so also must we condemn the condition of people living in the darkness of sin and spiritual misery for it is equally dehumanizing.
Jesus has invariably condemned the Pharisees for their hypocrisy. The sin of hypocrisy simply means the discrepancy of the external with the internal; the non‐conformity of what we manifest externally with what we have internally in our hearts and minds. Unfortunately, this sin is very common among us. There is no transparency in our personality, and we become like actors. But we are warned: “Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but God looks into the heart” (1Sam 16:7). We cannot hide from God; He can see the innermost recesses of our heart. That is why hypocrisy will just make us look worse in the eyes of God. Instead of trying to put up a nice facade, the Lord invites us to be more true to ourselves. In that way, we become single‐hearted and pure of heart. Any kind of pretence and false appearance will always work against us in the eyes of God.
0ur country is very religious. This is if we judge on the number of churches in the country and the great volume of churchgoers on Sundays. But does this mean that we are such a God‐loving nation? Does this mean we are law‐abiding people of God? On the contrary. We see rampant violations of the laws of God. There is the endemic and chronic corruption in our political system, abuses against basic human rights, offenses against human life, and many other sins. We are a religious people: we go to Church, we receive Holy Communion, we have fiestas and observe holy days of obligation, and we join processions and do a lot of novenas. But all these remain on the outside and do not have real impact on our life as a nation. This is shown in the fact that, at the same time, we also commit fraud during elections, we kill babies in abortion, we tell lies, we slander our neighbours and superiors, we cheat in our business dealings, we maintain mistresses and concubines. And to top it all, we announce to all and sundry that we are Catholics! And that is the worst. What really make us unclean are sins: “all these evils come from within and they defile” (Mk 7:23). The deadly sins are called capital sins. “Capital” means head, and capital sins are the sources of many other sins. It would always be very helpful to examine the condition of our spiritual life based on the list of capital sins. There are three steps to combat these capital sins.
Sacrament of Confession. Each capital sin is a grave mortal sin. The sacrament of Confession absolves these sins and restores our relationship with God and we regain our life.
The development and strengthening of the cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude.
Ask God’s graces. There are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord (Is. 11:1‐2). And there are also the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, kindness, faith, patient endurance, generosity, gentleness and chastity (Gal. 5:22).