Brothers and Sisters, it is easy to hear the Gospel and to think about all of the hypocrites out there in the world. The first hypocrites that come to mind are all of the TV evangelists who fell from grace and some of the scandals in our own Church – but this is too easy. It is too easy to apply the Gospel to others. My challenge for us today is to put ourselves in the place of the Pharisees. Could Jesus be talking to us? What areas of our lives might Jesus be calling us to examine? Here are some things we might consider:
- Do we honor God only with our lips while our hearts are far from Him? In other words, are we just going through the motions with our faith? I know for me it is easy to get so busy with my life that I am just completing a checklist. Morning prayer – done, “check”. Daily Mass – done, “check.” Rosary – done, “check.” All the while I am rushing to be finished and thinking about everything other than God.
- Do we pray only out of obligation or do we pray out of our love for Him? We will all struggle at times when it comes to our prayer but has this just become who we are without any real attempts to grow closer to God?
- Do we pay tribute to God with our lips while holding something else within our hearts? Do we call ourselves a follower of Christ while we hold prejudices or resentments toward others? Is there someone that we refuse to forgive? Do we use our faith as a reason to avoid or separate ourselves from others that God calls us to love? Do we give what we have to idols in our lives instead of using it to help those in need?
- Do we willingly embrace all of God’s commandments and what the Church teaches or do we pick and choose the ones we follow creating our own beliefs?
- Do we disregard the need for reconciliation?
- Do we long for a deeper faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist giving Him the honor he deserves, or do we receive Communion unworthily?
- Do we honor the Lord’s Day making Sunday a day reserved for His worship and communion with our families and communities?
- Do we worship God with humility recognizing our dependence on Him and seek His will above our own or does pride get in the way of His love for us?
- Do we truly place God above everything else in our lives or do we hold on to things that separate us from Him?
These are hard questions to ask and answering some of them might make us uncomfortable. They might even make us angry. I think Jesus would be happy if this is our response because it shows that we long for a deeper relationship with Him.
God wants our hearts. Jesus is not only speaking to the Pharisees in the Gospel. Christ is speaking directly to us!