Daily Meditation: "Purify the inside first, then the outside too will be purified"
Gospel text (Mt 23,23-26):
Jesus said, "Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You do not forget the mint, anise and cumin seeds when you pay the tenth of everything, but then you forget what is most fundamental in the Law: justice, mercy and faith. These you must practice, without neglecting the others. Blind guides! You strain out a mosquito, but swallow a camel. Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You fill the plate and the cup with theft and violence, and then pronounce a blessing over them. Blind Pharisee! Purify the inside first, then the outside too will be purified".
"Purify the inside first, then the outside too will be purified"
Today we seem to catch Jesus in a foul mood —someone must have really got him upset; upset with false religiosity, pompous claims and egoistic piety. He has sensed the lack of love, i.e., "justice, mercy and faith" (Mt 23:23), behind the superficial actions of trying to fulfill the Law. Jesus embodies all these in his person and ministry. He was justice, mercy and faith. His actions, miracles, healings and pronouncements exuded all these true fundamentals which flowed from his loving heart. For Jesus, it was not the matter of the law, but the matter of the heart…
Even in the words of chastisement, we see a hand of love held out by Jesus, to those who would want to come back to the basics: "You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God»"(Micah 6:8). Pope Francis said: "A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand properly this mercy of God, this merciful Father who is so patient... Let us remember the Prophet Isaiah who says that even if our sins were scarlet, God's love would make them white as snow. This mercy is beautiful!".
"Purify the inside first, then the outside too will be purified" (Mt 23:26). How true this is for each of us! We know how personal cleanliness makes us feel fresh and vibrant within and without. Even more so in the spiritual and moral realm, our inner self/spirit, if clean and wholesome, will shine forth in good deeds and actions, that "will glorify God and render him true homage" (Jn 5:23). Let us look at the bigger picture of love, justice and faith and not settle for the smaller nitty-gritty which consume our time and make us small and petty. Let us jump into the vast ocean of God’s love and not be satisfied with the rivulets of pettiness.
Fr. Austin NORRIS
Audio: Tuesday 21st in Ordinary Time