GOD LOOKS IN THE INSIDE
Paul insists that our freedom comes from our faith in Christ and we should never again give away that freedom. The only thing that matters is faith working through love.
In today’s gospel Jesus reacts against pious Jews who stress the observance of the externals – laws, rules, customs – without inspiration and motivation from inside. Most probably the Pharisees were sincere in practicing these outward regulations, but they easily gave the ones practicing them the conviction of saving themselves through them. In fact, in today’s world too externals count heavily. People buy things for their wrappings. Appearances are often all that matters… It is not the shining cup that matters but the contents. After all, not all that glitters are gold. Without a doubt, the contents must be first-rate.
Lord, our God,
Jesus touched the dead and unclean lepers
to raise them to life and to heal them.
Let us not be afraid
of dirtying our hands to help people
but of soiling our tongues to tell lies
and to besmear the good name
of our brothers and sisters,
to quarrel with them and to hurt them.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen!
1 Reading: Galatians 5:1-6
Brothers and sisters: For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. It is I, Paul, who am telling you that if you have yourselves circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. Once again I declare to every man who has himself circumcised that he is bound to observe the entire law. You are separated from Christ, you who are trying to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we await the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
Responsorial Psalm PS 119:41, 43, 44, 45, 47, 48
R. (41a) Let your mercy come to me, O Lord.
Let your mercy come to me, O LORD,
your salvation according to your promise. R.
Take not the word of truth from my mouth,
for in your ordinances is my hope. R.
And I will keep your law continually,
forever and ever. R.
And I will walk at liberty,
because I seek your precepts. R.
And I will delight in your commands,
which I love. R.
And I will lift up my hands to your commands
and meditate on your statutes. R.
Alleluia Hebrews 4:12
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is living and effective,
able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Luke 11:37-41
After Jesus had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.”
If we have been set free from the law, says Paul, there can be no returning to it again. Walk cannot happen on two feet at a time. If some Galatians return to circumcision, then they are bound to the whole law and they no longer belong to Christ. In following this path they hope to find justification. But the fact is that justice comes only through faith in the Spirit, and therein lies our hope. Neither the presence nor the absence of circumcision counts for anything; only faith works through love.
Faith working through love. Here Paul discloses what it means to believe. It cannot be divorced from love of God and neighbour. Faith without love is a dead faith, as James states later in his epistle.
The Gospel reminds us that to be absorbed in the externals of faith is another form of emptiness. It is quite possible for one to be a strong supporter of the church in a financial way and still be involved in forms of corruption in business or politics, practices completely at odds with his faith commitment. There are people who have left well-paying jobs because they were asked to compromise their consciences through inflated expense accounts or other irregularities.
We walk assisted by the strength of the Spirit. Our evil inclinations need not rule the day. Let us walk the way of truth and integrity. Let us be grateful to God who dwells within us and manifests himself in the nature that surrounds us. God is a friend and Father who manifests himself in so many ways in our lives. He is known through faith not law. The faith that works through love. It requires, not externalities, but internal disposition. Indeed, we are a blessed people.
That the People of God, its leaders and members, may never put the law above people but always practice the great commandment of loving God in one another, we pray:
That priests and religious make the poverty and love of Christ visible in them, so that their teaching may be credible, we pray:
That our communities may be strong and faithful witnesses in our world for the truth, honesty and authenticity, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
you look into our hearts
and you invite us to come to the table of Jesus
and to worship you with him
in spirit and in truth.
Let there be no pretence in us,
no mere outward display,
no attempt to impress people
as to how good and religious we are.
Make us honest with you and ourselves
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
Prayer after Communion
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
this Eucharist has been for us
an occasion of reflection
on the way we live our faith.
Let the word of Jesus echo in us
that we do not save ourselves
by our own practices,
but that we owe everything to you.
Accept our thanks and love
that all we are and have
we have received from you
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
What is inside us? God knows, and I hope each of us knows too. May the Lord love what he sees inside us, and may almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!