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Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Deut. 1:1-2, 6-8 & Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15; 21-23

What type of Catholics are we? Is our worship and love of God sincere or do we just give Him lip-service? When we read today’s Gospel we have to admit from Our Lord’s assessment that the Pharisees fall into the second category. They meticulously followed the traditions of the elders without any real love for God. But Jesus could read their hearts and labelled them as hypocrites.

We can see the Pharisees got their strict observance of the Law from Moses himself. In the first reading he says, “Now Israel, take notice of the laws and customs that I teach you today, and observe them.” But they did not heed his words when he said, “You must add nothing to what I command you, and take nothing from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God just as I lay them down for you.” Their elders had added to what Moses laid down – and it was these additions to which Jesus took exception.

Presumably there were some Pharisees who really loved God but for those being insincere Jesus rightly quoted the words of Isaiah: “This people honours Me only with lip-service, while their hearts are far from Me. The worship they offer Me is worthless, the doctrine they teach are only human regulations. They put aside the commandments of God to cling to human traditions.”

As was Jesus’ custom from this incident He takes an opportunity to teach His hearers a lesson. He points out the source from where Evil comes - from the mind and heart. He then goes on to make a list of sins that result ...

It is interesting to note the first sin He mentions is fornication! It is sad that among many people today, including Catholics, fornication is an acceptable practice for two people who say they love each other to live together before marriage. But this is displeasing to God. People conclude because this has become commonplace it has to be right. Many people argue that a woman can decide to have an abortion – but that does not make the murder of an innocent child right in God’s eyes.

What about us? Would Jesus say of you and me that we are hypocrites? What makes us attend Sunday Mass? Our worship of God is sincere only if we try to match it with as sinless a life as possible. The amount of our sinning – what we have done and what we have failed to do - is a gauge of the sincerity of our worship of God at Mass.

It is so easy for us to examine the behaviour and motives of others and not scrutinise our own. Are we just being spectators at Mass. Yes, we may receive Holy Communion every Sunday, but is it making us more Christ-like? If not then we are making a mockery of receiving the Lord's Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

Lord Jesus, may we be more than just Sunday Catholics. Let our Sunday worship of God flow into our daily lives and into our places of work.

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