Saturday 28th August 2021
The majority of Pharisees who clashed with Jesus over what constituted true worship with God, believe it or not, were the best of people. They devoted their lives completely to guiding souls to God. It would be easy to simply dismiss them as a group of pious hypocrites. We should assume their sincerity in being shocked by the way Jesus departed from Jewish tradition. To make matters worse he told them they had missed the whole point of religion, which was to worship God with a sincere heart. Because they have made external observance the supreme test of goodness, their religion had sunk to the level of mere lip service. Their worship was as worthless as an empty shell, nothing more than a pack of pious practises.
Our Lord is pointing out something he wants us to notice. His words to the Pharisees are a challenge and they apply to us also. Jesus is appealing to us to be on our guard against merely external compliance with ritual. If we are to keep our worship of God in true focus, we must call attention to what we are doing. God looks to the heart, and to our innermost thoughts as well as our outward actions. We are to be continually searching out what God wants of us, purifying the way we live, and practising our religion. But wearing a religious medal, having or clasping religious articles do not necessarily make us good Christians. Joined hands are no substitute for sincere prayer, coming from the heart. It is very easy to depart from God’s will and appear religious at the same time. To be more than devoted Christians, the love of God must flow into our daily lives and into our homes.
Hoping everyone is staying safe and being healthy!