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September 01, 2021
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Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Spirituality without morality is insanity. When we pride ourselves on belonging to the Body of Christ and yet our moral lives are woefully secular and vicious, there is a problem. If there is no evidence of a wholesome change in us in spite of hearing the Word of God frequently then we have lost the essence of the Christian faith.
When Moses gave the Israelites the Commandments of the Lord, he said to them, “You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deut. 4:2). However, with the passage of time, the “traditions of the elders” developed. These traditions, sometimes called the oral law, started as commentaries on the Commandments. Soon, they were designed to supplement God’s written Law. Championed by the Pharisees, these traditions of the elders gained so much prominence. Sometimes, the Commandments of the Lord were set aside in favour of them. (Mk. 7:9-13). People soon became experts of the traditions of the elders but not experts in putting into practice the Word of God.
The Gospel text for today revolves around one of such traditions of the elders – the washing of hands. If the intention underpinning the practice was hygiene, it would have made sense but to make the washing of hands a criterion to be spiritually acceptable to God was an overstatement. Jesus vigorously attacked the motive behind such practice saying, “Nothing that goes into someone from outside can make that person unclean; it is the things that come out of someone that make that person unclean” (Mk 7: 15). With this statement, Jesus shifts the discourse from the external to the internal aspect of an authentic spiritual life. An authentic spirituality is to put into practice the Word of God. In this regard, the author of the Letter of James writes: “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1: 22).
To follow Christ is an interior journey of faith that manifests itself in concrete expressions of love of neighbor such as reaching out to orphans and widows in their distress, and keeping oneself unstained by the world (James 1: 27).
A truly spiritual person is a light in the dark. Such a person brings the flame and warmth of love wherever he/she goes. As we endeavor to serve the Lord, let us give the Holy Spirit the chance to purify our individual and collective “human traditions” so that our faith in God would sprout in practical expressions of love.
PRAYER: Eternal Father, purify our hearts and inflame them with true love. May our lives be a blessing wherever we find ourselves. For the sake of Christ, we pray. Amen
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