"...BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR FROM ME..."

OUR DIVINE LORD AT HIS RESURRECTION



Jesus Christ, God with us, is speaking:
"Hypocrites, well hath Isaias  prophesied of you, saying:  This people honoureth Me with their lips: but their heart is far from Me" (Matt XV : 7,8) . Our Lord goes on in Verse 9 to say "In vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men."

Who could have warranted this withering criticism from the lips of God made man?

Our Lord was addressing the Pharisees who were dogging His footsteps, striving to catch Him and His disciples in their legalistic web. In this case, the Pharisees were complaining that the disciples did not carry out the detailed ritual washing of their arms ( up to the elbow) etc. before eating. Our Lord knows them through and through with His Divine knowledge . He , God Himself, shows them how they ignore the TEN COMMANDMENTS given by God by substituting their own man made rule. He highlights their practise of declaring things "Corban"or dedicated to God's Temple, in order to avoid their obligation to support their parents ( "Honour thy Father and they Mother") . So that money or valuables which might have been used to assist needy parents were declared "Corban"and thus could not be used to help the parents.

In his classic spiritual work "The Teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ" ( sometimes referred to as "Avancini's Meditations" published in 1666, the Jesuit Father Nicola Avancini  addressed himself principally to religious, and shaped his meditations accordingly.But we can all benefit from almost every one of those meditations. Hear him on the above passage :

Our Lord showed that they were more guilty than the disciples because, although they were scrupulous about the letter of the law, they did not serve God with their hearts and affections. But is not the same thing almost an obsession with us at times? Do we not serve God with one eye on public opinion rather than seek to please Him only? It is only the shadows of virtues we cultivate in this way, and in the meantime we do not eradicate our real faults which are staining the soul."

Now, in these troubled times, there is, even in the Church ample capacity to point out the deficiencies of others in matters of  detail - detail legitimately founded in the desire to authentically worship God. But we must not pursue  faults - whether of excessive "liberality"or harsh "traditionalism"without regard for CHARITY. It is sometimes a very hard tightrope to walk, particularly with excessive "liberality"" cases where we seem to be confronted with deliberate malice at times. But we must never let the pursuit of error leave us devoid of Charity - Caritas -Love. We must indeed hate sin but love the sinner . In this way our heart will always be close to God, for St.John tells us that God is Love.

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