22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Fr. Vinner)
OBEYING GOD’S COMMANDMENT WITH A PURE HEART
My Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
On this twenty second Sunday of the church’s ordinary time, we rejoice in law of God which is pure religion. This law of God is fulfilled in the Sacrament of love and only dwells in a pure and transformed heart. All the readings of this Sunday are on the commandment of God and the best way to obey it.
In our first reading, Moses reminds the Israelites of the commandment of God. He urged them to obey it in order to be successful in life. He also stressed that they should not add or remove from the law. It is however sad to note that this warning was not heeded. This is because the Pharisees multiplied it to about six hundred and ten codes. In this way, they made life difficult for the people of Israel.
So, in today’s gospel, Jesus confronted the Pharisees because of their hypocrisy. This is because, they never observed the laws they have multiplied for the people. This is a dangerous way of life which we must be careful about. We must not live a hypocritical life or even make life unnecessarily difficult for others. Christ also teaches us today that, unlike the Pharisees, we must not pay much attention to the physical, while we are spiritually sick. So, by saying that: “What comes out of a man is what defiles him,” Christ is telling us today to look inward and examine ourselves properly.
The intentions we have in our hearts, the malice, hatred, pride, and the evil thoughts that we have for others are really what make us who we are. If any of these has a room in our hearts, we must evict it as quickly as possible. They are the real enemies that we have and must fight. Our heart and mind are like a big box filled up with many different things. There is a saying that: “The greatest enemy that one has is and, lives with oneself.” It is also the most difficult enemy to fight, because it comes with denial and pride.
The quality of our life is measured by the qualities of what we have in our hearts. So the most important thing that God needs from us is a pure heart. Hence, Christ tells us: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5, 8). So, rather than pay more attention to physical purity like the Pharisees did, we should let the word of God transform us as Paul tells us: “Let your hearts be in worldly transformed, so that you will know the will of God…”(Rom 12, 2). Like the psalmist we must pray to God daily: “Create a pure heart in me O Lord and, put a new and loyal spirit in me” (Ps 51, 10).
The best way we can show that we are faithful to the commandment of God is only when our hearts are transformed by it; when it motivates us to pursue goodness, to love others, to avoid sin and evil; when we are moved to repent and to forgive others and; when we make effort to live a just, merciful and, honest life. So, as Paul tells us today in our second reading, we must put into practice the word of God which are his commandments are of love: Accept and submit to the word which has been planted in you…you must do what the word tells you.” The best way to do this is to let our Christianity find expressions in the way we love and treat others. As the psalmist tells us today: The just shall live in the presence of God. Living in the presence of God means obeying his commands and having a pure heart.
Life messages: 1) we need to learn and keep the spirit of the Church’s laws and ritual practices. For example, our Sunday obligation is intended to allow us to worship God in the parish community, to offer our lives to God, to ask His pardon for sins, to thank God for His blessings and to receive Divine life and strength from Him in Holy Communion. Our daily family prayers are meant to thank God for his blessings, to present the family’s needs before God, to ask pardon for sins, to maintain the spirit of unity and love in the family and to keep close relationship with God.
2) Let us avoid the tendency to become cafeteria Christians that is, to choose certain Commandments and Church laws to follow, and to ignore the others as we choose certain food items and ignore others in a cafeteria.
May God Bless us!
FR. S.Vinner HGN