In a world full of anxiety and uncertainty, it is rare and difficult to see others in their real and genuine selves. While they can still do both, I have seen that people are more concerned about the need to protect themselves and their loved ones from sickness, harm and other risks, than by extending their hearts to others. Some use their appearances to deceive others into thinking they are what they say they are. They mislead others and lead them to the wrong paths. Despite these, there are others that shine like gems and rise above the challenges. They extend themselves despite the difficulties they face. These are those who don’t allow the pandemic to limit their generosity and good hearts.
In the Gospel (Mk. 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23), the Pharisees and scribes questioned Jesus, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”
Christ responded to them,
“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: 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.”
When people cling to human tradition without understanding God’s commandments, they become stiff and pretentious. They stick to rules and disregard God’s instructions. In the Gospel we see how their short-sightedness revealed the hypocrisy of their hearts. They showed their true colors to Christ in the way they asked their questions. Thus, there is a clear danger for people who are strictly regimented in the practice of their faith but haven’t grown spiritually in love of God and neighbor. Knowingly or unknowingly, they betray themselves by the arrogance of their actions. Sadly, there are those who are doing a lot of prayers and yet fail to practice the fruits of these devotions. These prayers are supposed to yield humility and therefore obedience to God and charity towards others.
In Matthew 5: 23-24, Jesus revealed the importance of sincerity and genuine love for God,
“Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
You cannot pretend to be righteous, holy and yet have a grievance and unforgiving heart on others. You cannot appear to be repentant outside and yet deep in the recesses of your heart lie the dark abyss of hypocrisy. You cannot proclaim to be God’s followers in words and yet act in the opposite direction of His teachings.
The Lord warned,
“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.”
Today, we are invited to humility, obedience and charity in order to save our souls (Second Reading, Jas. 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27).
Let us pray that the Holy Spirit guide us on the way to humility, obedience and charity.
“The one who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord. (Ps. 15: 1a)