Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Holy Virgins)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the Scriptures, telling us about being truly faithful to God, in all of our words, deeds and actions, as exemplified by the Lord and His words to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law before the people who followed and heard His teachings. In that exhortation, the Lord rebuked those mentioned for their uptight and unreasonable attitude with regards to the observance and the fulfilment of the commandments of God’s Law.
In the Gospel passage today, the Lord rebuked the Pharisee who invited Him to a meal, and wondering in his heart why was it that the Lord and His disciples did not wash their hands in the way prescribed in the laws and customs of the Jewish people at the time, as handed down the generations from the time of Moses. The Lord knew what was in the heart and mind of the Pharisee, and voiced out His anger at the warped and unreasonable way of thinking as shown by the Pharisee and the others.
To them, external cleanliness and good appearances are important, but yet, they paid little to no attention on their internal disposition and preparedness, in terms of how they lived their lives, that ended up making them unworthy because of their wicked and unholy deeds, by desiring the many temptations of life. They did all their outward manifestations of faith, all the prayers and devotions, not because they truly loved God, but because they wanted to be praised and gain prestige among the people.
That is what the Lord wanted to highlight when He said that those who clean the outside but not the inside of a cup has been foolish in their deeds. He was against all those who treated their faith as a mere outward expression of piety and devotion, and yet, has nothing inside their hearts, no love of the Lord, and no true understanding and appreciation of what they were doing for the sake of the Lord.
It is sad that truly, it is possible to act in piety and in what seemingly pleases the Lord, but yet not having faith in someone’s mind and heart. And it was not just the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who did so, but even us as Christians. How many of us lived through our lives as Christians, doing what we are supposed to do as Christians, in our piety and our devotions to God, in our prayers and in what we have done all these while, and yet, in our hearts and minds, God was not truly present?
That means we are just going through the motion in living our faith life. How many of us coming for the Mass every Sunday without realising its importance for the salvation of our souls? How many of us goes through our prayers and other forms of expressions of our faith not because of our love for God, but instead for our own selfish desires, for either power, glory, recognition and all those other similar sorts of typical human greed and ego.
Today, we are called as Christians, to emulate the good examples set by our faithful predecessors in faith, namely St. Hedwig and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, whose faith and whose lives have been exemplary and good, and which we should also follow in our own expression of faith. They have shown us how it is that we should live, in turning ourselves towards God with complete sincerity and desire to love Him.
St. Hedwig was a noblewoman who became the wife of the powerful Duke of Silesia in what is now present day Poland. She was a devout and committed Christian, who has not let her position of power and glory to distract her from her faith, obedience and commitment to God. She lived a good life, caring for the needs of her people, and after her husband passed away, she entered a monastery in which she spent the rest of her life.
Throughout her life, St. Hedwig led a prayerful life centred on God, and her many charitable works for the poor, the sick and the less privileged in her society showed just how her heart and mind is attuned and centred on the Lord, which therefore influenced her every actions and deeds, which she did out of love for God and for her fellow men, and not for herself or for satisfying her selfish human desires.
Meanwhile, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was a mystic, visionary and member of the religious order of the Visitation nuns. She received many visions of the Lord and His Blessed Mother, in which she saw the vision of the Sacred Heart of Our Lord, and through the conversations between Him and St. Margaret, she received what is now known as the Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. In that vision, she received the revelation of just how God loved us mankind, pouring out from His bleeding Heart.
St. Margaret Mary therefore led a pious and devout life, centred on the devotion she had, a very fervent and true love for the Most Sacred Heart of the Lord. She directed many people both during and after her life, to turn themselves to God’s love and to entrust themselves to the love which God has shown to each one of us, despite our sins and disobedience against Him. And she showed us the way to go forward in our life.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we follow the good examples set by St. Hedwig and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, by turning ourselves towards God with our whole heart and with our whole being. Let us be true Christians from now on, that our interior, and not just exterior self, be truly attuned and centred on God, and that we may love Him from now on, till the end of our days. Amen.