Reflection on first reading of the day “July 2”

“Seek good and not evil,
that you may live;
Then truly will the LORD, the God of hosts,
be with you as you claim!
Hate evil and love good,
and let justice prevail at the gate;
Then it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts,
will have pity on the remnant of Joseph.

Seek good and not evil,
that you may live;
Then truly will the LORD, the God of hosts,
be with you as you claim!
Hate evil and love good,
and let justice prevail at the gate;
Then it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts,
will have pity on the remnant of Joseph.

I hate, I spurn your feasts, says the LORD,
I take no pleasure in your solemnities;
Your cereal offerings I will not accept,
nor consider your stall-fed peace offerings.
Away with your noisy songs!
I will not listen to the melodies of your harps.
But if you would offer me burnt offerings,
then let justice surge like water,
and goodness like an unfailing stream. (Amos 5:14-15, 21-24)

Just recently Pope Francis directly challenged the mafia. One author related how one hit man of the mafia would kiss his rosary before he would kill a man. One mob boss made sure that he went to daily mass. When they caught another mob boss they saw that he read his bible every day, and that he believed he was doing God’s will. 

Now these might be extreme examples but how easy it is for us to hide our corrupt hearts behind a veneer of religion. St Francis De Sales gives examples like this, “A man thinks he is religious because he prays every day, but he think nothing of destroying the good name of another. Another man is generous with the poor but he will not forgive his brother.” St Francis says these men are frauds when it comes to the pious life. 

How easy it is for us to deceive ourselves. Jesus even says, ” Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and who love salutations in the market place and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” (Luke 20:45-47)

Some people love the old mass. Others like guitars at mass. Some like classical music at mass. Others like modern music. Some like the priest praying with his face away from the people. Other prefer the priest to face the people at mass. What does Jesus prefer?

Jesus desires a clean and upright heart. A heart full of goodness, love and mercy. If we don’t have a heart full of goodness, love and mercy it doesn’t matter how beautiful the liturgy is or how many prayers we might say. 

 

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