Our Ministries
31 Aug

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Not Lip Service, But Active Service

“This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

I often think when I go to Mass on Sunday, or any day of the week, “Why am I here?” Has this become tradition, or a habit? Am I fearful that if I fail to show up, I will be committing the sin of not keeping holy the Lord’s day? Am I only a law abider?

Mark in this gospel presents lots of examples of external practices that were common in Jesus’ time. Many of them were about purification—ritual washing or cleansing, eating certain food and not others, keeping the traditions of the elders. But Jesus wants us to examine the habits of our hearts! What touches our hearts? What keeps us on the path of following Jesus—doing what Jesus would do? What does LOVE demand of us? How do we move from being “hearers” of the Word and become “doers” of the Word?

Jesus makes it quite clear: religion that is pure is defined as taking care of orphans and widows in their affliction. Who are the orphans and widows among us? Who are the least among us?

I struggle every day with images of refugees all over the world. The nightly news lets us see the Rohingya Muslim people who have fled to overcrowded, poverty-ridden Bangladesh to escape genocide, those seeking asylum in many countries who are fleeing violence, crime and certain death in Central American countries, those displaced by war in so many places in the world, human beings who are trafficked and live lives as sex slaves.

Our Scripture readings this weekend remind us that our hearts must be formed by God’s wisdom. We pray AND we act! Jesus asks for nothing less—not lip service only, but active service.

May I also recommend two other resources for your praying and acting this week? The first is a follow-up to Fr. Mike Schmitz’s reflection last week on the sex abuse crisis.

The second resource is one that I personally enjoy listening to every week.