True Worship Through Observance of Commandments

Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

The first reading tells us that the wisdom and intelligence of the Israelites would be made manifest only in their observance of the commandments of God. The proclamation by Moses also was the wisdom of God entrusted to His people so that they would live well in the land that God has given them and that the other nations would believe that the God of Israel was the true God. Thus the commandments of God are meant to be universal, unchangeable and eternal.

In the 2nd reading, St. James observes that religion does not consist only of our prayers or our preference to which church we go. Religion is the life that after our prayers and celebrations in Church, in gratitude we can do some practical service to the needy in terms of our time, talent and treasure.

Jesus, in the Gospel today, reprimands the Scribes and the Pharisees for their disregard of God’s commandments in favor of human tradition. Jesus declares that “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” (Mk 7:21-23).

Basically the following vices stain our hearts and our relationships:

  1. a) Pride, which makes a person forget that he is a creature and that God is his creator and his hope. Pride drives a person to seek dominance over another or to seek power for power’s sake;
  2. b) Lust, which is idolatry in itself, as it makes a person worship and desire another selfishly;
  3. c) Envy, which makes a person see the gifts and capacities of another as his lack and the other person’s gain. There is no gratitude for other’s situation and capacity.
  4. d) Greed, which makes a person acquire things that will only gratify himself. He is never satisfied with what he has, and therefore cannot be grateful enough. With ingratitude in his heart he is most likely to deceive others so that he can get what he wants.

In many US highways, we can see billboards that say, “adopt a highway,” but then America aborts babies. In many countries, they made abortion and artificial contraception legal, and also conveniently disregard unpopular promiscuous sexual behavior. Parents are upset when their children lie and cheat on small matters, but they don’t care about lying and cheating to their spouses, to their superiors and to their friends just to get what they want. People may not kill, but they don’t care about character assassination. We talk about big time environmental care, but we, personally, are not concerned about proper trash disposal; and many other inconsistent behaviors.

True and pure religion includes not only worshipping God in Church on Sundays, praying some novenas, following the 10 commandments of God or not doing what is bad. True religion, and being truly religious, also includes true worship from the heart, that is, being active in the Church, staying unstained by the sinful world, striving to grow in holiness for this is our calling, helping the needy and doing good to others. St. Peter tells us: “Become holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, after the likeness of the holy One who called you; remember, Scripture says, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’” (1Pt 1:15-16).

God calls us to be authentic, genuine children. We cannot stay focused; we are mesmerized and caught up by commercials and advertisements, and by a life of consumerism. We are called to be involved in and to partake of the Body of Christ, our life and our food. St. James says, “humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls” (Jas 1:21). We share the meal that Jesus has prepared for us with our sins forgiven and hearts purified, so that we will be strengthened in our journey towards eternal life.

Let us make our life and that of our families the sign of the living wisdom and intelligence of God in this part of the world.

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