TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Also Read: Mass Readings for 29 August 2021
First Reading: Deuteronomy 4: 1-2, 6-8
Watch out for what you indulge in!
(6) You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who when they hear all these statutes, will say, “Surely, this great nation is a wise and discerning people.”
The more we read the Word of God, the more resolute will be our observance of the Law of God. Living in strange and challenging times today, we are often faced with the dilemma of pandering to popular and secular practices. Many pagan or superstitious customs or other vices have gradually permeated into ‘normal’ life; even as we tread in an increasingly ‘global’ world. Some of us give into these practices out of ignorance but some of us really do not bother!
In keeping with the first and second commandments, all practices remotely linked to pagan cultures must be avoided. We must not be deceived, this is not freedom! Even a single act of an unholy practice leaves open the window in our hearts to other sly activities!
Dancing with the devil will leave us slipping all the way!
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 15: 2-3, 3-4, 4-5
Eyes Wide Open!
(4) In whose eyes the wicked are despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord; who stand by their oath even to their hurt.
Do we idolize dishonest people and marvel at their property? Well, we must open our eyes now!
Second Reading: James 1: 17-18, 21b-22, 27
True Hearers – True Doers!
(21) Therefore, rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness and welcome with meekness, the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.
(22) But be doers of the word and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.
And to paraphrase verse 27: Take care of orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself unstained by the world. How? – Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect. Rom 12:2 It might seem an uphill task, most of the time but this path allows us freedom. -The freedom to live in peace and joy from within our spirit! One effective and practical way to get there is in consciously reminding ourselves about our many blessings; every time doubt/despair comes knocking.
Once we remember the mercies of God, we are bound to lift a song of praise. What better way than, to repeat the psalms even as we go about our daily responsibilities! Amen!
Gospel: Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15,21-23
First Rinse Your Heart!
(6-8) Jesus said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.” You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.
(21-22) For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.
There is an urgent need for each one of us today, to set aside pride and come humbly before the Lord. In silent, self-reflection we would be able to see the log in our own eye. When we evaluate our daily actions and motives based on the aforementioned verses, we will recognize our true character.
Jesus lists out twelve vices/sins and none of them are any less pardonable than the other. But they all arise from the heart, where their seed is harbored. While nurturing these intentions, if any work or outward action is performed for the sake of a tradition; the person is deemed a hypocrite by God himself. For example, with Churches opening up in most parts of the world now; we may partake of the Holy Eucharist and thrust large bills into the coffers at Mass. But when we get back home, if we do not hesitate in watching licentious material; then we are the Hypocrites of today! The rest of the vices could be tested out in the like manner, for us to ‘see’ clearly.
Therefore, we ought to ‘do’ and follow the practices; but in doing so, the motives of our hearts must be in alignment with God’s commandment. So, you may wash your hands in full view of the public; but rinse your hearts as well of all malicious motives in privacy before your God!