There’s an undercurrent that runs through all three of Sunday’s Scripture readings. Basically it’s that words matter, but even more important is putting the words into action. Faith and religion are taking on a greater importance in our national political discourse. Hardly a day goes by without some politician or talking head or religious figure speaking pious religious words. But when you look at their actions, then Jesus’ words ring true: “This people honors me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.” All too often I wonder: “Are they reading the same Gospel I am?”
But … I too often am the same way. I can look at that list of “heart sins” that Jesus outlines in the Gospel and say: “I certainly haven’t murdered anyone or committed adultery or those other ‘biggies.’ I’m not really malicious, deceitful, licentious, envious, arrogant and given to folly.”
But Jesus could come right back at me and say that words have different meanings, and that my heart is indeed filled with junk. Take malicious, for example. Synonyms are catty, mean, nasty and spiteful. Oops, guess I have been malicious. Arrogance could be seen in being overly proud of myself or of my opinions, totally convinced that my way is the right away, treating others like peons or serfs. Ouch … done that too!
Given to folly? Nah, not me. But time usually proves that something I did or said was evidence of lack of good judgment or a lack of prudence. Sigh, there I go again … many are the times when I’ve winced at my foot in mouth approach, or buying something I didn’t really need which shoots a big hole in the budget. Envious? Well, sometimes I do get resentful of another’s success, or home, or car, or their personal qualities.
Basically, if the things I do, say, or think are unloving, then I am not being a Christian at that moment. I’m doing something immoral. And that, my friend, is why we need the mercy of Jesus, who said that the just man sins 70 times seven times a day!
May God give you a nice surprise today!
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.