Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Are you aware that love, even love of enemy, is more important than observing all kinds of religious rules? - Daily Reflections August 4,2015

In one of our pilgrimages to the Holy Land, we had a Muslim tour guide for two days because the Christian guide was sick. On the second day, we went into a Western restaurant where we enjoyed delicious pork chops. A kind old lady in our group invited the tour guide to join us. He smiled and said, ”Sorry, enjoy your meal, but I am not hungry,” while looking at our plates with a mixture of envy and desire. The lady had forgotten that Muslims, like Jews, are not allowed to eat pork.
       Later, I explained to her why the guide had refused, or had to refuse. Sighing she said, “Thanks be to God that we Catholics can eat whatever we like.”
       While several religions have prohibitions when it comes to food, we can, as the lady said, eat whatever we like. This is based on what we read in today’s Gospel: “It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.”
       With these words, Jesus made it clear that God does not look at external observances but at the state of the heart. He knew very well that a person may observe all kinds of regulations, except to violate the basic law of love in interpersonal relationships. It’s a trap into which many Catholics fall. Some attend part of a Sunday Mass and say, “I am a good Catholic,” but their daily life is marked with gossip, intrigues, corruption, etc. A Christian may be involved with much zeal in Charismatic prayer groups but neglect their children at home. This person would not be praised by Jesus.
         In his very first homily as pope on March 14, 2013, Pope Francis said, “We can journey as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, the thing does not work. We will become a welfare NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of Christ.”
       The Gospel passage makes us aware that faith does not consist in regulations and observances but in how we love. Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD
REFLECTION QUESTION: Are you aware that love, even love of enemy, is more important than observing all kinds of religious rules?
Lord, to observe rules and rituals is easier than loving the people I meet every day. Let the cross remind me of the greatest and most important commandment.

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