Obeying God’s Commandment With A Pure Heart
Readings: 1st: Deut 4, 1-8; Ps 14; 2nd: Jam 1, 17-18. 22-27; Gos Mk 7, 1-8, 21-23
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
On this twenty second Sunday of the church’s ordinary time, we rejoice in law of God which is pure religion. This law of God is fulfilled in the Sacrament of love and only dwells in a pure and transformed heart. All the readings of this Sunday are on the commandment of God and the best way to obey it.
In our first reading, Moses reminds the Israelites of the commandment of God. He urged them to obey it in order to be successful in life. He also stressed that they should not add or remove from the law. It is however sad to note that this warning was not heeded. This is because the Pharisees multiplied it to about six hundred and ten codes. In this way, they made life difficult for the people of Israel.
So, in today’s gospel, Jesus confronted the Pharisees because of their hypocrisy. This is because, they never observed the laws they have multiplied for the people. This is a dangerous way of life which we must be careful about. We must not live a hypocritical life or even make life unnecessarily difficult for others. Christ also teaches us today that, unlike the Pharisees, we must not pay much attention to the physical, while we are spiritually sick. So, by saying that: “What comes out of a man is what defiles him,” Christ is telling us today to look inward and examine ourselves properly.
The intentions we have in our hearts, the malice, hatred, pride, and the evil thoughts that we have for others are really what make us who we are. If any of these has a room in our hearts, we must evict it as quickly as possible. They are the real enemies that we have and must fight. Our heart and mind are like a big box filled up with many different things. There is a saying that: “The greatest enemy that one has is and, lives with oneself.” It is also the most difficult enemy to fight, because it comes with denial and pride.
The quality of our life is measured by the qualities of what we have in our hearts. So the most important thing that God needs from us is a pure heart. Hence, Christ tells us: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5, 8). So, rather than pay more attention to physical purity like the Pharisees did, we should let the word of God transform us as Paul tells us: “Let your hearts be in worldly transformed, so that you will know the will of God…”(Rom 12, 2). Like the psalmist we must pray to God daily: “Create a pure heart in me O Lord and, put a new and loyal spirit in me” (Ps 51, 10).
The best way we can show that we are faithful to the commandment of God is only when our hearts are transformed by it; when it motivates us to pursue goodness, to love others, to avoid sin and evil; when we are moved to repent and to forgive others and; when we make effort to live a just, merciful and, honest life. So, as James tells us today in our second reading, we must put into practice the word of God which are his commandments are of love: Accept and submit to the word which has been planted in you…you must do what the word tells you.” The best way to do this is to let our Christianity find expressions in the way we love and treat others. As the psalmist tells us today: The just shall live in the presence of God. Living in the presence of God means obeying his commands and having a pure heart.
Peace be with you!