Readings for Today
Why do we do the things that we do? Or maybe even more specifically, why do we do the things that we do in the name of religion? Over and over again Jesus reminds us that the external has limited or no power if it is not fed by the internal disposition of our hearts toward God. The tradition so important to the scribes and Pharisees have become meaningless because their hearts are not turn toward God. On the outside, they can seem to be doing very religious things. But on the inside, they are blind to the will of God’s presence.
We know the religion always faces such a temptation. There is a certain sense of pride and satisfaction when people can see us doing something good. We find that priests and bishops can look for those signs of privilege and prestige that can come because of their position. In the lives of all the baptized, there can be the temptation to focus on those easy external actions to perform, while missing the true goal of a relationship with Jesus which is real and authentic conversion.
Jesus reminds us of the spiritual life is not about being noticed for doing good things. Great saints remind us that prayer ceases to be authentic, it’s a desire and goal prayer is simply to feel better. The goal prayer, the importance of our relationship with God, is the degree to which our hearts are converted to living and acting like Jesus. We understand that this is no small challenge. Perhaps that is why people sometimes gravitate to the external at the expense of the internal conversion.