Homily of September 2, 2018, 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Trip to the Confessional
With the Cholera and Ebola Virus which raked so many in the African Continent we hear of the importance of disinfectants. Hand sanitizers have gained a lot of economic publicity nowadays. One may PRAISE the Pharisees and Scribes who observed the disciples of Jesus eating without purifying themselves. Every society and its peoples are defined by certain traditions. Traditions, taken broadly constitute the assemblage of all that constitute their worldview and values-religion, laws and customs. All societies demand the strict respect of their respective traditions. It is against this backdrop that we understand the question presented to Jesus today on why his apostles do not follow the Jewish ritual laws: they eat without washing their hands. Jesus uses the occasion to teach that authentic faith should not be replaced by external rituals.
Jesus insists on the fact that the law of charity rules and directs all other commands. The law of love is to will the good of the other. This includes willing our own good by not doing evil. The law of love wants to reform our heart or interior dispositions and gives us the grace or power to do so. On our part, it requires our cooperation and effort. This calls for some soul searching. What is the state of my interior dispositions, from which arise all sin.  
This Gospel reading says to us that we must not identify our religion or being religious with just performing external acts like: going to church on Sundays and attend Mass, saying prayers, reading the Bible or giving to charity because these do not guarantee us holiness. What is the most important is the love in our hearts that motivates us to what do what we do. We go to Mass and we pray to God because we love Him so much. We give charity to those in need because we love them. If our hearts is filled with bitterness and pride, then all these external acts won’t make us holy before God and enter His Kingdom.
Jesus further touches SIN which flows from the interior of our hearts. He mentions them and insist that they affect our society. Some priests are considered village idiots for preaching about sin. It is no longer fashionable to refer to such unenlightened concepts. But, as Pope John Paul II says, “It is not we who have written the Gospel.” Pope Pius XII said, “The sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin.” Pope John Paul II preached, “Secularism preaches there is no God and therefore no sin. Psychology advises us to resist our feelings of guilt. Sociology instructs us to lay all blame on society and think of ourselves as victims…  Theological cliques jump on the bandwagon and define sin away.”
Clearly the Teacher looked upon sin not only as a social evil but also a personal decision. Christ, someone has put it succinctly, gives the sinner but two options – either to be forgiven or be punished. Jesus challenges each of us to look right into our hearts. God knows very well what is hidden in our hearts. We may do a lot of external purifications but the heart is far from God. We must make a trip to the confessional!
Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf
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