28th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Gal 5:1-6
Brothers and sisters: For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. It is I, Paul, who am telling you that if you have yourselves circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. Once again I declare to every man who has himself circumcised that he is bound to observe the entire law. You are separated from Christ, you who are trying to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we await the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
Gospel: Lk 11: 37-41
After Jesus had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.”
THE TRUE FREEDOM: No washing of hands? Jesus goes straight to the table! It is purposeful. He wants to give a shock not only to the Pharisee, but to people with a ritualistic mindset. A mere repetition of meaningless rituals and practices would not guarantee holiness. Anthony DeMello highlights how meaningless some practices are with the famous story of the ceremony of tying the cat before the ritual in the temple: A cat used to disturb the ceremony. So the priest decided to tie it down before the prayer. Later on, this became a trend. When the cat died another one had to be brought in and tied to the post before the rituals began! What originated for a practical reason, later became a necessary part of the ritual itself! Jesus is very clear. What matters is not our practices, even of charity, but a pure heart full of love.
Prayer: O Holy Spirit, set our hearts free!
RIGHTEOUS BY FAITH: In the first reading, St. Paul tells the Romans that the one who is righteous by faith will live. God will punish those who hide the truth with evil for they exchanged the truth with a lie by worshipping idols instead of God. In the Gospel, the Pharisees thought that they were righteous but they practiced their faith by only observing the outside cleanliness. Their hearts were filled with evil. Jesus reprimands Simon his host (a Pharisee) due to his convectional and outdated thinking. He was only filled with customary laws of washing hands, which did not reflect righteous faith. Sometimes we are not concerned on righteous faith but only concentrate in the observance of customs and rules. A blind addiction to customs will not lead us to righteous faith of God’s Kingdom.
PRAYER: God our Father May you help us to live a life of faith and righteousness.
THE GOSPEL IN THE HEART: Most of us are spiritually nurtured with catechisms, sacraments of initiation, recollections and retreats. Yet we have not overcome the corruptions of the world and, immoral and unjust practices. We are tempted still to place our happiness on things and passing realities. It seems that faith has just remained in the surface and failed to take deep roots. Faith cannot remain as status symbol, rather it is to be personalized, enter deep in our hearts and transform us so that the Gospel becomes the sole principle that unifies, gives meaning, and guides all areas of our lives.