A true religion

The WORD in Other Words by Fr Jose Caballes SVD (Philippines)

Tuesday 2nd Week of Lent

Nothing is surprising about this gospel passage.  It even speaks to us directly. We can easily identify ourselves with the attitudes of the Scribes and Pharisees because they represent our basic human motivations.

We all want to be recognized as important and cut above the rest. We want fame and prestige. But all these are externally motivated, only for a show, and therefore do not come across as sincere and genuine.

The consequence is that we become shallow and thereby project ourselves as not credible. What we say do not reflect what we practice.

Other people sense these attitudes, which could only invite disdain and condemnation. Jesus puts it simply as a hypocritical display that deserves nothing but ridicule. Because of such attitudes, the Scribes and Pharisees have reduced religion to a religion of ostentation and a mere display of sanctity.

This is the very opposite of what Jesus understands of real religion which is to obliterate oneself so that whatever good one does is not ascribed to him, that glory is accorded but to the heavenly Father. Any religion, therefore, that purports ostentation in action and pride in the heart is a false religion.

No wonder “the 19th-century Danish theologian Soeren Kierkegaard identified two kinds of religion. The first is in name only (2 Tim. 3:5). It’s the practice of attending church without genuine faith in the living Lord.” And the second is “a life-transforming, destiny-changing experience.” (Our Daily Bread, March 15, 1994)

We know which kind of religion our Lord is talking about.

SOURCE- The WORD in Other Words, Bible Diary 2020

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