AD SENSE

22 Sunday B: Holiness - Outside and Inside Purification

A. Fr Jude Botelho:

In the first reading from the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses exhorts the people to heed the statutes and ordinances of God so that they might inherit the land promised by Yahweh. While advising them to follow the laws and commandments of God, at the same time he warns them against adding or taking away anything from what they have received from God. Today's reading reminds the people that they have to be faithful to the written Law and not add their own interpretations and customs to the Law. In our own experience, we know that often in interpreting the law we apply it as we think best rather than as God wants us to live. We can be observing the letter of the law while missing its spirit. 


Little to drink

William Barclay, the Scottish theologian, tells the story about an old rabbi who was in a Roman prison. He was on minimal ration of food and water. It was just enough for him to survive. As time passed, the rabbi grew weaker and weaker. Finally, it was necessary to call a doctor. The old man's problem was diagnosed as dehydration. The doctor's report confused the prison officials. They couldn't understand how the rabbi could be dehydrated. Although his daily ration of water was minimal, it was adequate. The guards were told to watch the old man closely to see what he was doing with his water. It was then that the mystery was solved. The guards discovered that the rabbi was using almost all his water to perform religious ritual washings before he prayed and before he ate. As a result, he had little water left to drink.
Mark Link in 'Sunday Homilies'
 

In today's Gospel, we find the Pharisees attacking Jesus by finding fault with the behaviour of his disciples. They notice that the disciples were eating without washing their hands as the practice of the law demanded, and so they ask Jesus: "Why do your disciples not live according to the traditions of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?" Around that time there arose on the part of many Jews the desire to imitate the ritual holiness of their priests. For example, according to the written law, ritual washing was required of all priests before they entered the temple sanctuary. Its purpose was to wash all uncleanliness so that they could worship God more worthily. Gradually the people began to imitate the priests and wash their hands before praying. In a similar way, the washing before meals evolved. By the time of Jesus the Jews observed these oral traditions just as minutely as they did the written laws of the Torah. Perhaps the idea behind all these observances was noble; it was to make religion permeate every action of daily life. But in the course of doing this, religion degenerated into an activity of performing rituals. Observance of these rituals was equated with pleasing God and they became a yardstick of measuring one's own holiness and a criterion of judging others as well. God was out of the picture and the observances became an end in themselves. Rightly, Isaiah said: "This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me."
 

Lip Service

A story is told of a Moslem who, while pursuing a man with an upraised knife to kill him, heard the muezzin's call to prayer from the minaret. He stopped, extended his prayer rug, said his prescribed prayers, and then continued his original pursuit after the man he wished to kill. He had said his prayers now he could go about his sordid business. Unfortunately, changing what has to be changed, the same could be observed of some Christians, who while pursuing their sinful activities, may stop to attend church services before getting back to their same old sinful pursuits.
Anonymous
 

Do we stand for God?

Centuries ago in one of the Egyptian monasteries, a man came and asked to be admitted. The abbot told him that the chief rule was obedience, and the man promised to be patient on all occasions, even under excessive provocation. It chanced that the abbot was holding a dried-up willow stick in his hands; he forthwith fixed the dead stick into the earth and told the newcomer to water it until, against all rules of nature, it should once again become green. Obediently the new monk walked two miles every day to the river Nile to bring a vessel of water on his shoulders and water the dry stick. A year passed by and he was still faithful to his task, though very weary. Another year and still he toiled on. Well into the third year he was still trudging to the river and back, still watering the stick, when suddenly it burst into life. -The green bush alive today is a living witness to the mighty virtues of obedience and faith.
F. H. Drinkwater in 'Quotes and Anecdotes'
 

The Wrongs of Rites

A disciple once boasted about the effectiveness of his prayers and pilgrimages. His Guru advised him to take a bitter gourd along with him on his pilgrimage to place at every altar, to dip into every holy river and to be blessed at every shrine. When the disciple returned, the Guru reverently conducted a liturgy with the bitter gourd, cut it into pieces, and distributed it as sacramental food. Tasting it he declared, "Isn’t it surprising that all the prayers, pujas and pilgrimages, have not reduced the bitterness of this gourd?" Many people spend much time discussing rectitude of rituals and reinforcement of rites. Isn't it time to stop fighting about rites and rituals and begin fighting for the rights of those orphans and widows mentioned in the Scripture?
Francis Gonsalves in 'Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds'
 

Their heart is not in it…

A man died recently and went to heaven. He was very happy up there, as he wandered about, exploring the place. One Sunday morning he bumped into Jesus (it could happen up there, just as sure as down here!). Jesus called him over to show him something. He opened a sort of trap door in the floor of heaven, so that the man could look through, and see even as far as the earth below. Eventually, Jesus got to focus his attention on a church, his own local church at home, where there was a full congregation at Mass. The man watched for a while, and then something began to puzzle him. He could see the priest moving his lips, and turning over the pages. He could see the choir holding their hymnals, and the organist thumping the keyboards. But he couldn't hear a sound. It was total silence. Thinking that the amplification system in heaven had broken down, he turned to Jesus for an explanation. Jesus looked at him in surprise. "Didn't anybody ever tell you? We have a rule here that if they don't do those things down there with their hearts, we don't hear them up here at all!"
Jack McArdle in 'And that’s the Gospel truth!'
*****

B. From Fr. Tony Kadavil's Collection:

1. Ritual   washing   using   drinking-water:   
William   Barclay   in The   Daily   StudBible tells  th story  o a ol Jewish  rabbi   i th Roman   prison  diagnosed  with  acutdehydration  which  would hav le to his death The  prison  guards  insisted tha th rabbwas  given   his  quota o drinkin water.   So  th prison  doctor  and   th officer  in  charginstructed the guards to watch the rabbi  an ascertain what he was doing with his ratio owater.  They were  shocked to find tha the rabbi  was using almost all his water for traditionaritual washing before praye an meals.  Todays gospel tells us ho th tradition-addictePharisees started questioning Jesus whe his disciples omitted the ritual washing of hands ipublic before a meal. 

2) Pursuit  o enemy  not   hindered  by  prayer:  
Barclays  second  story  i abou  Muslipursuing a enemy to kill him. In th midst of th pursuit th Azan, or public call to prayersounded.  Instantly  th Muslim  go of his  horse,  unrolle his  praye mat,  knel down anprayed the required prayers as fast as he could. Then he leaped back on his horse to pursuhis  enemy in orde to  kill him.  Jesus  opposes  this  type  o legalism  in th Jewish  religio itodays gospel. 
3 "Pu you han i Jesus'  hand":    
For  3 years  Mother  Teresa  worked  i the   slumof Calcutta, India. She worked among the most forsaken people on earth You an I woulrecoil  fro most  o th people  that   she  touched every   day     the   dispossessed,  thdowntrodden, the diseased, the desperate. And yet, everybody who met Mother Teresremarked on her warm  smile. How, afte 30 years of workin in conditions like tha di shkeep    warm   smile  o he face Well it's  interesting.  She  said  that   at   age   1 shleft Yugoslavia to  become  Christian  servant.  She  said,  "Whe  was  leaving  home mmother tol me  something beautiful  an very strange. She said, 'You g pu you hand iJesus hand an walk along with him.'" An was the secret of Mother Teresa's life ever after(Rev. King Duncan). Most  of us here  hav good jobs. An w live in nice homes, an whav easy  situations.  But w don't hav th warm  smile  o ou faces  tha this  little  nunworkin in the most desperate situation imaginable, ha on her face. What's the differenceIt ma be tha we've never put our hand in Jesus hand. It ma be tha we hav Him only oour lips.
********

C. From Sermons.com

 1)    Lip Service
 According to the story, Queen Victoria was once at a diplomatic reception in London. The guest of honor was an African chieftain. All went well during the meal until, at the end, finger bowls were served. The guest of honor had never seen a British finger bowl, and no one had thought to brief him beforehand about its purpose. So he took the finger bowl in his two hands, lifted it to his mouth, and drank its contents--down to the very last drop!
FFor an instant there was breathless silence among the British upper crust and then they began to whisper to one another.

All that stopped in the next instant as the Queen, Victoria, silently took her finger bowl in her two hands, lifted it, and drank its contents! A moment later 500 surprised British ladies and gentlemen simultaneously drank the contents of their own fingerbowls.
It was "against the rules" to drink from a fingerbowl, but on that particular evening Victoria changed the rules---because she was, after all, the Queen. It is "against the rules" not to wash your hands before you eat and on that the Pharisees called the hand of the disciples who follow Jesus. But Jesus recognizes their hypocrisy and he quotes from Isaiah, "These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me."

Brett Blair, www.eSermons.com. Thanks to Winfield Casey Jones for ths story
2)    How many of you had "night lights" as a kid?
Can you remember your "night light?" Do any of you still have your "night light?"
What is it about the night that cuts us all down to size? Whatever you felt in the day--loneliness, lostness, despair-is magnified in the night. Thank God for "night lights" -those calming, gleaming points of brightness in darkened rooms that helped muzzle monsters and banish the bodysnatchers.
All you kids present-I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Adults still use "night lights." Only we rationalize them as guidance systems to the bathroom, or emergency lighting systems. Basically though, we are all still afraid of the dark.
Fear of the dark isn't just some childish weakness. It is a genetically ingrained reaction, programmed into our earliest ancestors who struggled to stay alive when the nocturnal predators came out to hunt. Children might fear imaginary monsters, but there are enough real life things that go bump in the night to encourage us to keep a dark-defying light on throughout the wee, small hours...
___________________
3)    Melting Mountains of Ice 
William Lloyd Garrison was the greatest abolitionist this country has ever known. He was a publisher of a newspaper called the Liberator, an antislavery publication. Garrison was an angry man, angry with indignation caused by the unbelievably inhumane treatment many of the slaves experienced. He hated slavery with everything that was in him. One day one of his best friends, Samuel May, tried to calm him down. He said to Garrison, "Oh, my friend, try to moderate your indignation and keep more cool. Why, you are all on fire." Garrison replied, "Brother May, I have need to be all on fire, for I have mountains of ice around me to melt." Well, the only way any of us can melt mountains of ice is to be on fire.

The only way Christ can use any of us is when we are driven by a great passion, when we feel or hear his voice within our heart showing us a great cause that needs to be championed. Nothing is accomplished in this world by people who have no passion. That's one reason we need God in our hearts as well as on our lips.
King Duncan, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com
____________________________________
4)    A Person of Good Heart or Excellent Habits

Rev. David Chadwell posed a rather interesting question: Which would you prefer for a next-door neighbor: a person of excellent habits or a person with a good heart? Which would you prefer for a good friend: a person of excellent habits, or a person with a good heart? Which would you prefer for a husband or a wife: a person of excellent habits, or a person with a good heart? Which would you prefer for a child: a child with excellent habits, or a child with a good heart?  

It is wonderful to have a neighbor who conscientiously cares for his property while respecting your property. It is wonderful to have a friend who always treats you with consideration. It is wonderful to be married to a husband who always is thoughtful and courteous, or to a wife who always is gracious in her comments and deeds. It is wonderful to have a son or daughter who shows respect and uses good manners.

As wonderful as those situations are, none of them compare to having a neighbor, a friend, a husband, a wife, a son, or a daughter with a good heart.

When you discuss good behavior, you are discussing the quality of a person's self-control. When you discuss a good heart, you are discussing the quality of the person.

This is the focus of today's Scripture...
___________________ 
5)    Seeing Only the Smoke, Never the Fire
 In Luke 7:32, Jesus observed that this generation is like school children who pipe and their friends won't dance, who wail and their chums won't cry. "There is no pleasing you!" We simply find something wrong with everything.
John Wesley pointed out that every gift God gives man is quickly sullied by human hands. He said every revival comes with defects. So he'd pray, "Lord, send revival without the defects." But then he told the Lord, "If you won't do it, then send the revival with the defects."
Pharisees only see the smoke, never the fire. They complain about defects, never seeing the revival. Negative, critical persons, they are judgmental.  
Stephen M. Crotts, Sermons for Sundays after Pentecost, CSS Publishing
_____________________
 6)    Tradition Is a Powerful Thing 
Years ago Harry Emerson Fosdick told about a church in Denmark where the worshipers bowed regularly before a certain spot on the wall. They had been doing that for three centuries -- bowing at that one spot in the sanctuary. Nobody could remember why. One day in renovating the church, they removed some of the whitewash on the walls. At the exact spot where the people bowed they found the image of the Madonna under the whitewash. People had become so accustomed to bowing before that image that even after it was covered up for three centuries, people still bowed.
Tradition is a powerful thing. The Pharisees had learned to substitute tradition, custom, habit for the presence of the living God. Traditionalism rears its head in many ways, in many times and in many places.  
King Duncan, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com
_______________________
7)    Fault-Finding 
Shakespeare said, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet." Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? I'm sure it would. You see, the truth is that the thing is what it is, not what someone calls it. Names are assigned to us, based on our outward circumstances by ourselves and other people. "Sinner, Failure, Stupid, Dummy, Unclean" all are names which label us. But what we are called, either by others or by ourselves does not determine who we are. It might speak of those external circumstances, but it might be wholly inaccurate. You see, a failure is not someone who fails. In reality, the people who fail the most are the ones who succeed. You only get to success by taking risks and risk-taking brings many failures along the way. A failure is someone who simply doesn't try. No, names do not determine who you are. You are who you are on the inside.
So, the first important lesson is that we must cultivate the inner person.
The inner person is the person who counts. The apostle Paul desired that we
be strengthened in the inner man.
It boils down to relationship. We are only as strong as our personal relationship with Christ. 
J. David Hoke, The Inside Story, Mark 7:14-23.
_________________
 8)    The Shoeshine Boy
A certain downtown businessman became fond of the little boy who shined his shoes every day. He did such a good job that one day the businessman asked him, "Son, how come you are so conscientious about your work?" The boy felt complimented. He looked up to the man, and said, "Mister, I'm a Christian and I try to shine every pair of shoes as if Jesus Christ were wearing them."
The businessman saw something genuine in the shoeshine boy. Soon after that he began reading his Bible. When he decided to be a Christian himself, he credited his decision to the little boy who shined every pair of shoes "as if Jesus Christ were wearing them." That's a blessing. 
Charles R. Leary, Mission Ready!, CSS Publishing Company.
___________________
9)    Which Flowers Are Real? 
The queen of Sheba came to visit Solomon, and one day she put him to the test. She brought artificial flowers so perfectly formed that no human eye could detect them from real flowers. She put them in a vase on Solomon's table, in his throne room next to his flowers. As he came in, the queen of Sheba is reported to have said, "Solomon, you are the wisest man in the world. Tell me without touching these flowers, which are real and which are artificial." It is said that Solomon studied the flowers for a long time and spoke nothing, until finally he said, "Open the windows and let the bees come in."
There are ways to tell the artificial from the real-let the bees come in; they will know where the real is. If we live with the authentic Jesus long enough, we will recognize the artificial when we see it.  
Brooks Ramsey, When Religion Becomes Real  

10) Amazing  famil tradition:  
 Isaac  Ol had   heard  fro his  grandmstories of a amazing family tradition in his family It seems tha his father,  grandfather angreat-grandfather ha all been abl to wal on water on their 21st birthday.  On tha daythey'd wal across th lake  to th boat club for their first lega drink.  So whe Isaacs 21sbirthday came around, he an his pa Sven too a boat out to the middle of the lake Olstepped  ou o th boat an nearl drowned!   Sven  just  managed to  pul hi t safetyFurious an confused, Ole wen to see his grandmother.  "Grandma," he asked," it's my 21sbirthday, so wh can't I wal across the lake  like my father,  his father,  an his fathe beforhim? Grann looked into Ole's eyes with a broad smile an said, "Because your fathergrandfather an great-grandfather were born in January  whe the lake was frozen an yowere born in hot July!"

11) The  Jewish  tradition:  
Late in the evening, the young Jew knocked at the doo an askeas an elderl ma opened the door.  "Sir, what time is it? The old Jew just stared at him andid  no answer.  Sir, forgiv me  for disturbing you a this time, said th young Jew, “but really wanto kno what time it is I hav to find a place to sleep.  The old Jew said, Sonthe inn on the next street is the only one in this small city.  I don't kno you, so you must be stranger.   If  I answer  yo now according  to  ou Jewish tradition,  must  invite  yo to  mhome.   You're  handsome  an  hav a  beautiful  daughter.   You will both  fall  in lov anyou'll  want to  ge married.   An tell  me wh would   want  son-in-law  wh can't eveafford a watch? 

Additional Anecdotes:

1)    A Person of Good Heart or Excellent Habits
Rev. David Chadwell posed a rather interesting question: Which would you prefer for a next-door neighbor: a person of excellent habits or a person with a good heart? Which would you prefer for a good friend: a person of excellent habits, or a person with a good heart? Which would you prefer for a husband or a wife: a person of excellent habits, or a person with a good heart? Which would you prefer for a child: a child with excellent habits, or a child with a good heart?
It is wonderful to have a neighbor who conscientiously cares for his property while respecting your property. It is wonderful to have a friend who always treats you with consideration. It is wonderful to be married to a husband who always is thoughtful and courteous, or to a wife who always is gracious in her comments and deeds. It is wonderful to have a son or daughter who shows respect and uses good manners.
As wonderful as those situations are, none of them compare to having a neighbor, a friend, a husband, a wife, a son, or a daughter with a good heart.
When you discuss good behavior, you are discussing the quality of a person's self-control. When you discuss a good heart, you are discussing the quality of the person.
This is the focus of today's Scripture...
_______________________
 2)    How many of you had "night lights" as a kid?
Can you remember your "night light?" Do any of you still have your "night light?"
What is it about the night that cuts us all down to size? Whatever you felt in the day--loneliness, lostness, despair-is magnified in the night. Thank God for "night lights" -those calming, gleaming points of brightness in darkened rooms that helped muzzle monsters and banish the bodysnatchers.
All you kids present-I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Adults still use "night lights." Only we rationalize them as guidance systems to the bathroom, or emergency lighting systems. Basically though, we are all still afraid of the dark.
Fear of the dark isn't just some childish weakness. It is a genetically ingrained reaction, programmed into our earliest ancestors who struggled to stay alive when the nocturnal predators came out to hunt. Children might fear imaginary monsters, but there are enough real life things that go bump in the night to encourage us to keep a dark-defying light on throughout the wee, small hours...
___________________
 3)    Melting Mountains of Ice
William Lloyd Garrison was the greatest abolitionist this country has ever known. He was a publisher of a newspaper called the Liberator, an antislavery publication. Garrison was an angry man, angry with indignation caused by the unbelievably inhumane treatment many of the slaves experienced. He hated slavery with everything that was in him. One day one of his best friends, Samuel May, tried to calm him down. He said to Garrison, "Oh, my friend, try to moderate your indignation and keep more cool. Why, you are all on fire." Garrison replied, "Brother May, I have need to be all on fire, for I have mountains of ice around me to melt." Well, the only way any of us can melt mountains of ice is to be on fire.

The only way Christ can use any of us is when we are driven by a great passion, when we feel or hear his voice within our heart showing us a great cause that needs to be championed. Nothing is accomplished in this world by people who have no passion. That's one reason we need God in our hearts as well as on our lips.
King Duncan, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com
____________________________________
 4)    Lip Service
According to the story, Queen Victoria was once at a diplomatic reception in London. The guest of honor was an African chieftain. All went well during the meal until, at the end, finger bowls were served. The guest of honor had never seen a British finger bowl, and no one had thought to brief him beforehand about its purpose. So he took the finger bowl in his two hands, lifted it to his mouth, and drank its contents--down to the very last drop!
For an instant there was breathless silence among the British upper crust and then they began to whisper to one another.
All that stopped in the next instant as the Queen, Victoria, silently took her finger bowl in her two hands, lifted it, and drank its contents! A moment later 500 surprised British ladies and gentlemen simultaneously drank the contents of their own fingerbowls.
It was "against the rules" to drink from a fingerbowl, but on that particular evening Victoria changed the rules---because she was, after all, the Queen. It is "against the rules" not to wash your hands before you eat and on that the Pharisees called the hand of the disciples who follow Jesus. But Jesus recognizes their hypocrisy and he quotes from Isaiah, "These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me."
Brett Blair, www.eSermons.com. Thanks to Winfield Casey Jones for this story.
___________________
 5)    Seeing Only the Smoke, Never the Fire
In Luke 7:32, Jesus observed that this generation is like school children who pipe and their friends won't dance, who wail and their chums won't cry. "There is no pleasing you!" We simply find something wrong with everything.
John Wesley pointed out that every gift God gives man is quickly sullied by human hands. He said every revival comes with defects. So he'd pray, "Lord, send revival without the defects." But then he told the Lord, "If you won't do it, then send the revival with the defects."
Pharisees only see the smoke, never the fire. They complain about defects, never seeing the revival. Negative, critical persons, they are judgmental.
Stephen M. Crotts, Sermons for Sundays after Pentecost, CSS Publishing
_____________________
 6)    Tradition Is a Powerful Thing
Years ago Harry Emerson Fosdick told about a church in Denmark where the worshipers bowed regularly before a certain spot on the wall. They had been doing that for three centuries -- bowing at that one spot in the sanctuary. Nobody could remember why. One day in renovating the church, they removed some of the whitewash on the walls. At the exact spot where the people bowed they found the image of the Madonna under the whitewash. People had become so accustomed to bowing before that image that even after it was covered up for three centuries, people still bowed.

Tradition is a powerful thing. The Pharisees had learned to substitute tradition, custom, habit for the presence of the living God. Traditionalism rears its head in many ways, in many times and in many places.
King Duncan, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com
_______________________
 7)    Fault-Finding
Shakespeare said, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet." Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? I'm sure it would. You see, the truth is that the thing is what it is, not what someone calls it. Names are assigned to us, based on our outward circumstances by ourselves and other people. "Sinner, Failure, Stupid, Dummy, Unclean" all are names which label us. But what we are called, either by others or by ourselves does not determine who we are. It might speak of those external circumstances, but it might be wholly inaccurate. You see, a failure is not someone who fails. In reality, the people who fail the most are the ones who succeed. You only get to success by taking risks and risk-taking brings many failures along the way. A failure is someone who simply doesn't try. No, names do not determine who you are. You are who you are on the inside.
So, the first important lesson is that we must cultivate the inner person.
The inner person is the person who counts. The apostle Paul desired that we
be strengthened in the inner man.
It boils down to relationship. We are only as strong as our personal relationship with Christ.
J. David Hoke, The Inside Story, Mark 7:14-23.
_________________
 8)    The Shoeshine Boy
A certain downtown businessman became fond of the little boy who shined his shoes every day. He did such a good job that one day the businessman asked him, "Son, how come you are so conscientious about your work?" The boy felt complimented. He looked up to the man, and said, "Mister, I'm a Christian and I try to shine every pair of shoes as if Jesus Christ were wearing them."
The businessman saw something genuine in the shoeshine boy. Soon after that he began reading his Bible. When he decided to be a Christian himself, he credited his decision to the little boy who shined every pair of shoes "as if Jesus Christ were wearing them." That's a blessing.
Charles R. Leary, Mission Ready!, CSS Publishing Company.
___________________

 9)    Which Flowers Are Real?
The queen of Sheba came to visit Solomon, and one day she put him to the test. She brought artificial flowers so perfectly formed that no human eye could detect them from real flowers. She put them in a vase on Solomon's table, in his throne room next to his flowers. As he came in, the queen of Sheba is reported to have said, "Solomon, you are the wisest man in the world. Tell me without touching these flowers, which are real and which are artificial." It is said that Solomon studied the flowers for a long time and spoke nothing, until finally he said, "Open the windows and let the bees come in."
There are ways to tell the artificial from the real-let the bees come in; they will know where the real is. If we live with the authentic Jesus long enough, we will recognize the artificial when we see it.
Brooks Ramsey, When Religion Becomes Real

10)  Ritual   washing   using   drinking-water:   
William   Barclay   in The   Daily   StudBible tell th story  o a ol Jewis rabbi   i th Roman   priso diagnose with  acute dehydratio whic would hav le to his death Th priso guard insisted tha th rabbi wa given   hi quota o drinkin water.   So  th priso docto and   th office in  charginstructed the guards to watch the rabbi  an ascertain what he was doing with his ratio owater.  They were  shocked to find tha the rabbi  was using almost all his water for traditional ritual washing before praye an meals Todays gospel tells us ho th tradition-addictePharisees started questioning Jesus whe his disciples omitted the ritual washing of hands in public before a meal.

11) Pursuit  o enemy  not   hindere by  prayer:  
Barclay secon story  i abou  Muslim pursuing a enemy to kill him. In th midst of th pursuit th Azan, or public call to prayer, sounded Instantl th Musli go of hi horse unrolle hi praye mat,  knel down and prayed the required prayers as fast as he could. Then he leaped back on his horse to pursuhi enemy in orde to  kill him.  Jesu oppose thi type  o legalis in th Jewis religio in todays gospel.

12) "Pu you han i Jesus hand":    
Fo 3 years  Mothe Teres worke i the   slums of Calcutta, India. She worked among the most forsaken people on earth You an I would recoi fro mos o th peopl that   sh touched every   day   –  the   dispossessed thdowntrodden, the diseased, the desperate. And yet, everybody who met Mother Teresa remarked on her warm  smile. How, afte 30 years of workin in conditions like tha di she keep    warm   smil o he face Well it's  interesting Sh sai that   at   age   1 she left Yugoslavia to  become  Christia servant.  Sh said "Whe  wa leavin home my mother tol me  something beautifu an very strange. She said, 'You g pu you hand in Jesus hand an walk along with him.'" An was the secret of Mother Teresa's life ever after. (Rev. King Duncan). Mos of us here  hav good jobs. An w live in nice homes, an whav eas situations But w don't hav th warm  smil o ou face tha thi little  nunworkin in the most desperate situation imaginable, ha on her face. What's the differenceIt ma be tha we've never put our hand in Jesus hand. It ma be tha we hav Him only oour lips.

13) Amazing  famil tradition:
 Isaa Ol had   heard  fro hi grandma stories of a amazing family tradition in his family It seems tha his father,  grandfather angreat-grandfather ha all been abl to wal on water on their 21st birthday On tha day, they'd wal across th lake  to th boat club for their first lega drink.  So whe Isaacs 21st birthday came around, he an his pa Sven too a boat out to the middle of the lake Olsteppe ou o th boat an nearl drowned!   Sve jus managed to  pul hi t safetyFurious an confused, Ole wen to see his grandmother.  "Grandma," he asked," it's my 21st birthday, so wh can't I wal across the lake  like my father,  his father,  an his fathe before him? Grann looked into Ole's eyewith a broad smile an said, "Because your father, grandfather an great-grandfather were born in January  whe the lake was frozen an yowere born in hot July!"

14) The  Jewish  tradition:
Late in the evening, the young Jew knocked at the doo an askeas an elderl ma opened the door.  "Sir, what time is it? The old Jew just stared at him andid  no answer.  “Sir, forgiv me  for disturbing you a this time, said th young Jew, “but I really want to kno what time it is I hav to find a place to sleep.”  The old Jew said, “Son, the inn on the next street is the only one in this small city I don't kno you, so you must be stranger.   If  I answe yo now accordin to  ou Jewish tradition,  mus invite  yo to  my home.   You're  handsome  an  hav a  beautifu daughter.   You will both  fall  in lov anyou'll  want to  ge married.   An tell  me wh woul  want  son-in-la wh can't eveafford a watch?

15) Wh is  th Pharisee?   

Fathe O'Malle wa goin throug th mai on da afte his powerfu sermo o th Pharisai life of some  of hi parishioners  o th previou SundayDrawin a  singl shee o pape fro a envelope, h found writte o it jus on word"FOOL. The next  Sunday a Mass, he announced, "I hav know man people wh havwritte letters an forgot to sign their names But this wee I received a letter from someonwho signed his name an forgot to write a letter. 

26 Additional anecdotes:  From Fr. Tony Kadavil:

1) Bowing tradition: Years ago, Harry Emerson Fosdick told about a Church in Denmark where the worshipers bowed regularly before a certain spot on the wall. They had been doing that for three centuries — bowing at that one spot in the sanctuary. Nobody could remember why. One day in renovating the church, they removed some of the whitewash on the walls. At the exact spot where the people bowed they found the image of the Madonna under the whitewash. People had become so accustomed to bowing before that image that even after it was covered up for three centuries, people still bowed. Tradition is a powerful thing. The Pharisees had learned to substitute tradition, custom, habit for the presence of the living God. Jaroslav Pelikan once said, “Tradition is the living Faith of the dead. Traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.” Traditionalism rears its head in many ways, in many times and in many places.

2) We are being watched. In many cities, we will get a ticket for speeding by mail, because photo radar vans sit beneath freeway underpasses snapping our picture as we speed by and the gun records our speed while the camera focuses on our license plate.  Video cameras are popping up everywhere, like virtual watching eyes.  School districts are installing cameras in school buses to document for unbelieving parents how their children behave. YMCAs have mounted security cameras everywhere.  Banks and businesses monitor the movements of suspected criminals and shop-lifters.  With Webcams positioned strategically throughout the child-care center, parents can log on to the Internet to see what’s happening with their babies.  Buzzing along benignly through clear American skies, the Recon Spy Plane has a hidden, remote-controlled camera that can be activated from up to 1,000 feet away.  All these are meant to force citizens to behave well.  But we conveniently forget the truth that God has an all-seeing “Holycam” perched inside our souls enabling Him to see what is in our hearts and minds. We may get away with appearance-based virtual morality in society, fooling civil authorities, friends, spouse or children.  But Jesus gives us a strong warning in today’s Gospel: “Nothing that enters from outside can defile a person; but the things that come out from within are what defile” (Mark 7:15).  Jesus is cautioning us not to be like some Pharisees who passed themselves off as pious, always performing the correct rites and keeping tradition-based observances, but whose inner lives were polluted with the stench of the graveyard.

3) Reluctant to break the Sabbath law:  Dr. Laura Schlessinger, a psychologist, is appalled by the culture of moral relativism that has pervaded our society. In her book, How Could You Do That? Dr. Laura tells of a call from a young woman who was living with her fiancĂ©. The young woman’s future mother-in-law was insisting that the woman and her son move closer to her home. What was the problem with that? The young woman claimed to be an Orthodox Jew, and she complained that if she moved closer to her future mother-in-law’s home, then she would be too far away from the synagogue. Instead of walking to Sabbath services, she would then have to drive, which would be breaking the Sabbath law. Dr. Laura couldn’t get the young woman to understand the inconsistency between observing one tenet of her faith–honoring the Sabbath–but not caring if she violated another–the prohibition against living with her fiancĂ© out of wedlock. It’s not unusual for people to espouse one thing and to do something entirely different. [Schlessinger, Dr. Laura. How Could You Do That?! (New York: HarperPerennial, 1996), pp. 186-187.]


4) Move Christ from our lips to our hearts:  In 1974, the top college basketball player in the country was a young man by the name of Bill Walton. At six foot eleven, he dominated college basketball. He took his team, UCLA, to their third consecutive NCAA championship, and in his senior year went on to the NBA. Bill had some adjustments to make in the NBA, and he didn’t make them very well. Then abruptly he left the game. He said his heart was no longer in his playing. After some time went by, Bill Walton came back. This time his heart was in his game, and he played like it. He led the Portland Trailblazers to their first NBA championship. Then he moved on to the Boston Celtics. Now he’s a television basketball announcer. It makes all the difference in the world if your heart is in what you’re doing! A lot of us are trying to live our lives with our hearts in nothing or, we should say, with nothing in our hearts. We have Christ on our lips, but He’s never made that journey further down. That’s why we are bored. How do we  move Christ from our lips to our hearts? That is the question which today’s Gospel asks us.

5) The world needs people who are on fire for Christ: William Lloyd Garrison was the greatest Abolitionist this country has ever known. He was a publisher of a newspaper called The Liberator, an antislavery publication. Garrison was an angry man, angry with indignation caused by the unbelievably inhumane treatment many of the slaves experienced. He hated slavery with everything that was in him. One day one of his best friends, Samuel May, tried to calm him down. He said to Garrison, “Oh, my friend, try to moderate your indignation and keep more cool. Why, you are all on fire.” Garrison replied, “Brother May, I have need to be all on fire, for I have mountains of ice around me to melt.” Well, the only way any of us can melt mountains of ice is to be on fire. The only way Christ can use any of us is when we are driven by a great passion, when we feel or hear his voice within our heart showing us a great cause that needs to be championed. Nothing is accomplished in this world by people who have no passion. They follow rituals and traditions without getting converted and renewed.  That’s one reason we need God in our hearts as well as on our lips.

6) Princess Diana versus Mother Teresa: Princes Diana captured the imagination of the world.  When she married in 1981 (700 million watched it in TV), and when she met with a tragic death on August 31, 1997 her funeral was watched by 2.5 billion people on TV. So, it would not be surprising if, on August 31, 2018 media made mention of the anniversary of her passing. The media may recall that someone else who died twenty-one years ago, a little nun in Calcutta known to the world as Mother Teresa. It has been said that Mother Teresa chose the wrong week to die, overshadowed by the death of the young princess. But maybe that’s the way it should be. Nothing could better reflect how warped the values of the world are. Mother Teresa wasn’t accompanied by a billionaire playboy when she passed from this life to the celestial kingdom. She wasn’t being driven in a high-speed luxury car. She lived and died serving the least and the lowest. She lived and died glorifying God and serving her neighbor. There’s nothing wrong with little girls aspiring to grow up to be princesses. How much better, though, if all of us aspired to be more like Mother Teresa! There’s nothing wrong with pomp and circumstance. There’s even nothing wrong with ceremonies linked to the washing of hands, even though doctors say a little dirt is good for you, unless the ceremony of washing hands causes you to look down on those who don’t observe such ceremonies, or unless you have clean hands but an impure heart.

7) The Fall: In Albert Camus’ novel The Fall, the central figure is a nameless lawyer who tells his story to a stranger he meets in a Dutch bar. The anonymous lawyer relates how he had always prided himself on being a selfless servant of humanity, a man of noble virtue and generosity. But then one dark rainy midnight, something happened to shatter his self-righteous image. As he was walking home over a bridge, he passed by a slim young woman leaning over the rail and staring into the river. Stirred by the sight of her, he hesitated a moment, and then walked on. After crossing the bridge, he heard a body striking the water, a cry repeated several times, and then the midnight silence again. He wanted to do something to save her but stood there motionless for a while and then went home. The nameless lawyer in Camus’ story reminds us in some ways of the Pharisees in today’s Gospel. The Pharisees were experts in the law and prided themselves on their scrupulous observance of it. And yet Jesus castigated them for their hypocrisy by quoting the prophet Isaiah: “This people pay me lip service but their heart is far from me” (Albert Cylwicki, His Word Resounds).

8)  “Oh yes, I believe in God, but I’m not nuts about Him” A young coed being interviewed on television about her religious beliefs said, “Oh yes, I believe in God, but I’m not nuts about Him!” According to the Gallup Poll that is a good description of how most Americans feel about God. Ninety-four percent of us believe in God. When it comes to translating that belief into action, however, most of us are clearly not nuts about Him. We have something in common with the Pharisees. Jesus once summed up the Pharisees’ chief problem like this: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” There is a group kin to the traditionalists that we might call Christian Secularists. This group is made up of that host of nominally committed people who fill the rolls of most churches. They bring their children to Sunday School. They use the Church to marry and bury. They visit us at Christmas and at Easter. They are not atheists or agnostics. They, like that young coed, believe in God, but they’re not nuts about him. Today’s Gospel is Christ’s view about such followers.

9) The great Potato Famine in Ireland: Between 1845 and 1849, the Great Potato Famine cruelly tortured Ireland and was responsible for the slow starvation and deaths of tens of thousands of Irish men, women and children. The blight that struck the beloved potato, the staple crop of the tenant farmers, was a blight called phytophthora infestans. As the disease decimated the potato crop, it assured bare tables and empty stomachs for millions of working families who depended on the potato for the filling, nourishing part of their daily diet. What was particularly cruel about this potato blight was that it left the tubers looking unscathed on the outside. The vegetables appeared large, firm, and hearty. But when cut open the potato revealed the blight had consumed it from the inside. The potato would be rotten, hollowed, soft and stinking from the center out to within a half-inch of its outer skin. What had looked promising as a meal couldn’t even produce a mouthful of unrotted pulpy flesh. The potatoes rotted from the inside out. This is exactly what the Bible means when it talks about original sin. We all have this blight in our being that rots us from the inside out. So even if we look great on the outside, and even if we tithe our lottery earnings and put lots of people to work, our hidden hungers and deep desires within are our true selves. Paul the Apostle said, “The good that I would, I do not, and the evil that I would not, I do” (Rom 7:15). We all stand as lepers, ritually unclean, standing in the need of grace and prayer.

10) “Love Lifted Me Clarence Jordan the founder of Koinonia Farm, saw hypocrisy at work at an early age. His father was a prosperous banker and merchant in a small Georgia town. They lived within one hundred yards of the Talbot County jail. One hot summer night during a revival meeting, Jordan noted how carried away the warden of the jail’s chain gang became while singing, “Love Lifted Me.” He was inspired at how deeply the prevailing spiritual atmosphere had impacted this man. Later that same night, however, Jordan was awakened by agonizing groans coming from the direction of the chain gang camp. He knew what was happening; he had heard these sounds before. Someone had been placed into the “stretcher” and was being tortured. He also knew only one person could be responsible for inflicting such torture–the same man who had been singing “Love Lifted Me” with great emotion and conviction only hours before. The realization tore at Jordan’s heart. He identified with the man who was in agony and, as a result, became angry with the Church as he understood it. Jordan didn’t reject his Faith or launch a protest, however. He stuffed his anger deep inside until such time as he could make a difference, which he certainly did in writing the Cotton Patch versions of the New Testament and in founding Koinonia Farm. [Dr. William Mitchell and Michael A. Mitchell, Building Strong Families: How Your Family can Withstand the Challenges of Today’s Culture (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), p. 193.]

11) A little dirt is good for you: One leading researcher, Dr. Joel V. Weinstock . . . said in an interview that the immune system at birth “is like an unprogrammed computer. It needs instruction . . . Children raised in an ultraclean environment,” he added, “are not being exposed to organisms that help them develop appropriate immune regulatory circuits . . . Children should be allowed to go barefoot in the dirt, play in the dirt, and not have to wash their hands when they come in to eat,” he said. He pointed out that children who grow up on farms are much less likely to develop allergies and autoimmune diseases. Also, helpful, he said, is to “let kids have two dogs and a cat, which will expose them to intestinal worms that can promote a healthy immune system.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/health/27brod.html?ref=science). Some of us probably think the good doctor went a little too far, particularly with regard to worms. However, the case seems fairly well made: a little dirt is good for you. The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem saw some of Jesus’ disciples eating food with ritually unwashed hands.

12) “I was in awe, every time I walked onto the field.” In 2005, Ryne Sandberg was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. Listen to how he describes his devotion to the institution of professional baseball: “I was in awe,” says Sandberg, “every time I walked onto the field. That’s respect. I was taught you never, ever disrespect your opponents or your teammates or your organization or your manager and never, ever, your uniform. You make a great play, act like you’ve done it before; get a big hit, look for the third base coach and get ready to run the bases.” Sandberg motioned to those inducted before him, “These guys sitting up here did not pave the way for the rest of us so that players could swing for the fences every time up and forget how to move a runner over to third. It’s disrespectful to them, to you and to the game of baseball that we all played growing up. Respect. A lot of people say this honor validates my career,” said Ryne Sandberg, “but I didn’t work hard for validation. I didn’t play the game right because I saw a reward at the end of the tunnel. I played it right because that’s what you’re supposed to do, play it right and with respect . . . If this validates anything, it’s that guys who taught me the game . . . did what they were supposed to do, and I did what I was supposed to do.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/opinion/27brooks.html?ref=opinion.) Many people would call Sandberg old-fashioned. And perhaps he is. But respect for tradition is important for holding things together whether it is a game like baseball, a culture, or a community of faith, a Church.

13) Don’t substitute rituals for authentic religion:  In Tony Campolo’s book Who Switched the Price Tags? Campolo says that, as an evangelical Baptist teacher and preacher, one of the most serious errors he made was to underestimate the value of ritual and tradition. From his studies of the famous French sociologist, Emile Durkheim, Campolo discovered how essential and vital “ritual is for the health and maintenance of any social institution.” Studies have shown, for example, “that in the absence of consistent ritual, families tend to fall apart morally and psychologically.” (Rev. Eric S. Ritz). Jesus was not opposed to rituals, ceremonies, traditions. However, he didn’t want us to substitute rituals for authentic religion or ceremonies for compassion toward others.

14) Changing rules of the game Jesus had a knack for constantly changing the rules of the game of life in order to incorporate a larger sphere of people in his Kingdom net. One sport where the rules have occasionally been changed is volleyball. Volleyball is a well-established game with rules which are basically understood by everyone who plays. But many times, we would have children playing the game who were either handicapped or mentally retarded. In order to integrate these special children into the game of volleyball, it was necessary to change the standing rules or laws of the game. We would say that it was fair for the special children to catch and throw the ball instead of having to volley the ball. This enabled all of the children to be part of the game. In our text Jesus was concerned that all of his children be a part of his Kingdom life. And he would go so far as to change the rules and regulations and laws in order to integrate as many of his children as possible. The Pharisees and teachers used the law to exclude people from the kingdom. This angered Jesus to the point of remembering what Isaiah had written: “These people honor me with their words, but their heart is really far away from me.”

15) Where are your sheep? In the late 1960s a soldier returned from Vietnam with a war bride. They made their home in rural Virginia. And they went to church. He was suffering post-battle stress syndrome and drinking heavily. She was Asian, lonely, and struggling to understand American society. The town shunned her. She was “different.” It was whispered she’d gotten pregnant to trap a husband and escape Saigon. People would not let their children play with hers. No one rang her phone. She grew depressed and finally killed her child and herself. At her funeral the Lord asked the pastor, “Where are your sheep?” He gave no reply. The Lord asked a second time, “Where are your sheep?” And the pastor said, “I don’t have any sheep. I have a pack of wolves!” What of us? What of us? Will we be Jesus’ lambs or self-made wolves? The one is the product of grace, the other of demons and self.

16) You are a Pharisee: You might be a Pharisee if you’ve ever shouted, “Amen!” more than 51 times during a single sermon on somebody else’s sin. You might be a Pharisee if you think the only music God listens to is at least 100 years old … if you’re sure nobody has ever had to forgive you … if your black leather Bible is so big it takes two hands to hold it up. You might be a Pharisee if you think the world would be a better place if everyone were just like you … if you think Jesus might have overstepped his bounds when he turned water into wine … if you think big hair is a sign of holiness … if you go to Church to prove you’re good! That is why Jesus issues three bewares to his disciples: “Beware the leaven of the Herodians” (Mark 8:15), Beware the leaven of the Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6) and “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees,” (Matthew 16:6). You are a Pharisee if have faith in your ideas and traditions about God instead of a relationship with the Living God, if you inclined to see what’s wrong with everything, if have a martyr complex, if you crave recognition, if you believe you are closer to God than others, if you have a “That’s him!” attitude, if you constantly wallowing in guilt with the feelings that you can never measure up, if you are repulsed by emotional extravagance, if you glory in the past, if you are addicted to self-help pop psychology, if you bring division instead of  lasting works, if you don’t take correction, if you believe you have been appointed by God to fix everything, if your prayer life is mechanical, if you believe you are on the cutting edge, if you are bossy, if you are intolerant, merciless and take pride in downward comparisons, if you are suspicious of new movements, if you are offended when you are addressed without the use of a proper title, and if you glory in anything but Jesus and the cross.

17) White shoes in SummerThere was an amusing incident several years ago when the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, visited Houston, Texas. When the Duchess made her first public appearance in Houston she wore a summer dress and matching white shoes. Now a summer dress can be appropriate attire in November in Texas, but every good Southern belle knows you don’t wear white shoes after Labor Day. It simply isn’t done. Fergie’s fashion faux pas caused an uproar. It was the hot topic on all the news shows and radio shows in Houston. Finally, the Duchess’ press secretary actually had to issue a press release explaining that this custom was unheard of in England. [Schwartz, Marilyn. A Southern Belle Primer (New York: Doubleday, 1991), p. 21.] Some traditions are just plain silly, like expressing dismay at someone wearing white shoes in November. Others can be sinful, like washing your hands to demonstrate to others your piety, when really your heart is far from God.

18) Sleeping Beauty’s Castle:  The centerpiece of Disney World, its most familiar icon, is the beautiful Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Its tall towers, fluttering banners, imposing size, and fairy-tale perfection draw every child (and isn’t that all of us?) towards it. But at Disney World, with all its technological wizardry and attention to detail, that centerpiece castle is a disappointment to first-time visitors. At least it was for me. Far from being filled with magical nooks and crannies, secret staircases, vast ballrooms and airy aeries to gaze out at the rest of the “magic kingdom” Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is empty. The castle is a hollow shell. The castle’s function is simply to serve as a portal into the Magic Kingdom, which loses some of its magic as soon as it becomes apparent that the castle is nothing more than a glorified archway. The outward appearance is all deception. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle has no heart of its own. Jesus wants to transform you this morning from the inside out, not from the outside in. Whatever the hollowed-out areas of your life, Jesus wants to fill them in with his presence and power. Jesus wants to give you a new heart a heart of Faith, a heart of Hope, a heart of Love.

19) No drowning celebration in New Orleans: In 1985 there was a celebration in New Orleans. New Orleans is a town known for celebrating, but this was a special kind of celebration. Sponsored by the city, it was a celebration at the municipal pool in New Orleans. The city’s life guards and support personnel were commemorating the first summer in memory with no drownings in the pools of that city. Two hundred people showed up for that party; one hundred of them were certified life guards. They had a great time, but as the party broke up, and the four life guards on duty for the occasion cleared the water, they found a fully dressed body in the deep end of the pool. Jerome Moody, age 31, had drowned right in the midst of the celebration. They tried in vain to revive him. [Jon Tal Murphree, Made To Be Mastered, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1984).] When I read that, I wondered to myself if it might be possible, right here in the body of Christ, right here with all the certified life guards – Sunday School teachers, officers of the church, choir members, pastors and all — could it be possible that there is someone who is drowning? Someone who is hurting so inside that there has come a barrier between him/her and God? He/she is one of the walking wounded.

20) Freedom of choice is the right to hate: The December 1998 issue of Life magazine carried a full-page picture of a group of about a dozen protestors. These people with twisted and angry faces were not protesting at the White House or in front of a military base. They were protesting at a funeral. One of them holds a sign which reads in big letters: “FREEDOM OF CHOICE IS THE RIGHT TO HATE.” They were protesting at the October 16, 1998 funeral of Matthew Shephard, the 21-year-old gay student beaten to death and hanged cross-like on a fence in Laramie, Wyoming. After such a terrible crime, could they not at least allow Matthew’s family and friends to mourn in peace? I wonder if the people protesting at Matthew Shephard’s funeral consider themselves Christians. If so, I wonder how they justify their hatred–regardless of how they might have felt about Shephard’s lifestyle. Even on the cross, Jesus forgave his enemies. How could they possibly justify hatred in his name? But that’s what happens when your lips are one place and your heart is somewhere else. You use religion to mask a heart filled with evil. You use religion as a weapon against those whom you despise.

21) Do we stand for God? Centuries ago in one of the Egyptian monasteries, a man came and asked to be admitted. The abbot told him that the chief rule was obedience, and the man promised to be patient on all occasions, even under excessive provocation. It chanced that the abbot was holding a dried-up willow stick in his hands; he forthwith fixed the dead stick into the earth and told the newcomer to water it until, against all rules of nature, it should once again become green. Obediently the new monk walked two miles every day to the river Nile to bring a vessel of water on his shoulders and water the dry stick. A year passed by and he was still faithful to his task, though very weary. Another year and still he toiled on. Well into the third year he was still trudging to the river and back, still watering the stick, when suddenly it burst into life. -The green bush alive today is a living witness to the mighty virtues of obedience and faith. (F. H. Drinkwater in Quotes and Anecdotes; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

22) The Wrongs of Rites: A disciple once boasted about the effectiveness of his prayers and pilgrimages. His Guru advised him to take a bitter gourd along with him on his pilgrimage to place at every altar, to dip into every holy river and to be blessed at every shrine. When the disciple returned, the Guru reverently conducted a liturgy with the bitter gourd, cut it into pieces, and distributed it as sacramental food. Tasting it he declared, “Isn’t it surprising that all the prayers, pujas and pilgrimages, have not reduced the bitterness of this gourd?” Many people spend much time discussing rectitude of rituals and reinforcement of rites. Isn’t it time to stop fighting about rites and rituals and begin fighting for the rights of those orphans and widows mentioned in the Scripture? (Francis Gonsalves in Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds: quoted by Fr. Botelho).

23) Their heart is not in itA man died recently and went to Heaven. He was very happy up there, as he wandered about, exploring the place. One Sunday morning he bumped into Jesus (it could happen up there, just as sure as down here!). Jesus called him over to show him something. He opened a sort of trap door in the floor of heaven, so that the man could look through, and see even as far as the earth below. Eventually, Jesus got him to focus his attention on a Church, his own local Church at home, where there was a full congregation at Mass. The man watched for a while, and then something began to puzzle him. He could see the priest moving his lips and turning over the pages. He could see the choir holding their hymnals, and the organist thumping the keyboards. But he couldn’t hear a sound. It was total silence. Thinking that the amplification system in heaven had broken down, he turned to Jesus for an explanation. Jesus looked at him in surprise. “Didn’t anybody ever tell you? We have a rule here that if they don’t do those things down there with their hearts, we don’t hear them up here at all!” (Jack McArdle in And That’s the Gospel Truth! Quoted by Fr. Botelho).

24) Pursuit of enemy not hindered by prayer: Barclay’s second story is about a Muslim pursuing an enemy to kill him. In the midst of the pursuit, the Azan, or public call to prayer, sounded. Instantly the Muslim got off his horse, unrolled his prayer mat, knelt down and prayed the required prayers as fast as he could. Then he leaped back on his horse to pursue his enemy in order to kill him. Jesus opposes this type of legalism in the Jewish religion in today’s Gospel.

25) Be doers of the word: St Fidelis, a martyr from southern Germany who died in 1622, is a good example. • Fidelis began his professional life as a brilliant and effective lawyer. • From the way he practiced law, he accrued a reputation for honesty, integrity, and effectiveness. • But his colleagues’ habitual dishonesty and self-seeking disgusted him so much that he left his career and became a Capuchin friar. • He put his lawyering skills to work in a heavy load of preaching, hearing confessions, and organizing care for the sick, many of whom he cured with miracles. • Everywhere he went whole towns were renewed in an energetic adherence to Christ and his Church. • When he and eight companions were sent to bring the Zwinglians (a branch of early Protestantism) of western Switzerland back into the Catholic fold, his mission met with similar success. • Too much success, maybe. • Soon the local leaders had had enough and roused the peasants against him. • They attempted to shoot him while he was preaching but missed. • Then they ambushed him on the road and beat him to death when he wouldn’t renounce his Catholic Faith. • The prayers for his attackers that escaped from his dying lips converted a Zwinglian minister who witnessed the martyrdom. If we live our Faith from the inside out, not only putting on a show, we will find the happiness we seek, and help others find it too. (E-Priest) 

26) Lip Service: A story is told of a Moslem who, while pursuing a man with an upraised knife to kill him, heard the muezzin’s call to prayer from the minaret. He stopped, extended his prayer rug, said his prescribed prayers, and then continued his original pursuit after the man he wished to kill. He had said his prayers now he could go about his sordid business. Unfortunately, changing what has to be changed, the same could be observed of some Christians, who while pursuing their sinful activities, may stop to attend church services before getting back to their same old sinful pursuits. (Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho).