August 29, 2021
Where is there a nation so great that has gods as close as the Lord, our God, whenever we invoke him?
Put the word into practice and do not be content to hear it, fooling yourself.
“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”
Reading from the Book of Deuteronomy 4, 1-2. 6-8
Moses spoke to the people, saying:
“Now, Israel, listen to the commands and decrees that I teach you so that, when they are fulfilled, they may live and take possession of the land that the Lord, God of his parents, is going to give them.
Do not add anything to what I send you or delete anything; You will observe the precepts of the Lord our God that I am sending you today.
Observe them and fulfill them, because that is your wisdom and your intelligence in the eyes of the peoples, which when they have news of all these mandates, will say: “It is certainly a wise and intelligent people, this great nation.”
Because where is there a nation so great that has gods as close as the Lord, our God, whenever we invoke him?
And, where is there another nation so great that it has such just mandates and decrees as all this law that I am proposing to you today?
Ps. 14, 2-3a. 3bc-4ab. 5
R / Sir, who can stay in your store?
Whoever does honestly and does justice,
the one who has loyal intentions and does not slander with his tongue. R /.
Whoever does not harm his neighbor or slander his neighbor,
He who considers the wicked despicable and honors those who fear the Lord. R /.
He who does not lend money at usury or accept bribes against the innocent.
He who works this way will never fail. R /.
Reading of the letter of the apostle James 1, 17-18. 21b-22. 27
My dear brothers:
Every good gift and every perfect gift comes from above, it comes from the Father of lights, in whom there is neither alteration nor shadow of mutation.
On his own initiative he begot us with the word of truth, so that we may be like a first-fruit of his creatures.
Accept with docility that word, which has been grafted onto you and is capable of saving your lives.
Put the word into practice and do not be content to hear it, fooling yourself.
Authentic and faultless religiosity in the eyes of God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to remain uncontaminated from the world.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark 7: 1-8a. 14-15. 21-23
At that time, the Pharisees and some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered with Jesus; and they saw that some disciples ate with unclean hands, that is, without washing their hands. (For the Pharisees, like the other Jews, do not eat without first washing their hands, scrubbing well, clinging to the tradition of their elders, and when they return from the square, they do not eat without first washing, and they cling to many other traditions, of washing glasses, jugs and pots).
And the Pharisees and scribes asked him:
“Why don’t your disciples walk according to the traditions of the elders and eat the bread with impure hands?”
“Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. The worship they give me is empty, because the doctrine they teach is human precepts. ‘ You put aside the commandment of God to cling to the tradition of men.
Jesus called the people again and said:
“Listen and understand everyone: nothing that enters from outside can make a man impure; what comes from within is what makes man impure.
Because from within, from the heart of man, evil thoughts come out, fornications, robberies, homicides, adulteries, greed, malice, fraud, debauchery, envy, slander, pride, frivolity. All these evils come from within and make man impure ”.
In today’s first reading, taken from the book of Deuteronomy, Moses invites the people of Israel to listen to and fulfill God’s commandments as a premise for living and receiving the promised land. He makes them see that, in such precepts, which are much more than mere rules of behavior, there is the wisdom of life and the deepest intelligence of human existence. In them one understands God, his holiness and his justice, as someone close and attentive to the needs of his people. Certainly, the Decalogue carries within itself a theology, that is, a clear image of who God is, almighty and eternal, creator of heaven and earth; and at the same time it also carries an anthropology, that is, a concept of the human being, as a creature of God to whom we owe ourselves and are called to love, respect, imitate and represent.
Deep down, Moses, through these words, is inviting his people to coherence and fidelity to God’s commandments as a sign of authenticity. Because without such fidelity the people of Israel would lose their identity. That is the authenticity to which the Psalmist also invites in Psalm 14, a prayer addressed to God and, at the same time, steeped in wise and prudent rules for everyday life.
The Apostle James, in the second reading, invites the first Christians, in the same line as Moses, to accept the Word with docility and to put it into practice, not to be content deceptively with hearing it without making it alive. He even goes so far as to mark a very specific guideline as a sign of authenticity: to serve the poor, orphans and widows, without contaminating himself with the things of this world.
In today’s Gospel we observe how Jesus, in confrontation with the Pharisees and scribes, proposes an authentic religiosity based on the fulfillment of God’s commands and not on human norms and traditions. The Jews had turned the fundamentals of their religion into the fulfillment of a very long series of precepts that, according to them, made the Law of God explicit, but that, in reality, overlapped, camouflaged, accommodated or even profaned it.
Jesus makes them see that what matters is not what is seen but what is not seen; Faced with apparent norms and compliance, there is the religiosity of the heart, which springs from the depths of each human person, which is always in the light of God, even though it cannot be seen by men. In this sense, what certainly stains the heart of every human person is all the evil that can flow from him, his evil thoughts and bad actions. And what truly makes us good in the eyes of God, what He wants from us, are external fulfillments but cleanliness and goodness in the heart, translated into thoughts, words and actions of life for ourselves and others.
Thus, the Word of God today greatly challenges us on one of the basic pillars of religiosity and Christian faith: authenticity. We understand by something authentic, and we call it thus, what is not false, hollow, empty, pure imitation, mere image or simple facade; something diametrically opposed to hypocrisy, double life or pretense. The authentic is what it is and is worth by itself. And as such it is appreciated and desired by all those men and women with a noble and sincere heart. An authentic person is one in whom there are no folds or backsliding, with a clean and transparent heart, with nobility of spirit and coherence of life.
As Christians we must always seek authenticity in our lives that is intimately related to the truth and the good. To be authentic is to live in the truth, always seeking the good, observing and fulfilling the Lord’s commands, as the reading from Deuteronomy tells us today. Certainly lies and falsehood sometimes take over us almost without feeling it. We let ourselves be carried away by the environment and we enter into the dynamics of sweetening the truth, accommodating it, losing courage to communicate and defend it. And we lose authenticity.
In authenticity lies in large part our power of conviction, the fruitfulness of our apostolate, the power of preaching and of any pastoral initiative. The lack of authenticity and coherence in so many Christians today causes the Church to lose presence and visibility, to dilute worldliness and consumerism, to cease to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
Our worship will be authentic if it is accompanied by works of fraternal charity; Our meetings will be fruitful if there is in them compassionate and merciful love for all. Our life will be authentically Christian if we preach first by example and then by word, if we live what we believe and believe what we say. May the Lord never have to say of us: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”
Lord Jesus Christ, out of the darkness of death you made light arise. In the abyss of the deepest loneliness dwells, from now on and forever, the powerful protection of your love; From the dark corner we can already sing the hallelujah of those who are saved.
Grant us the humble simplicity of faith, which does not fade when you harass us in the hours of darkness and abandonment, when everything becomes problematic.
Grant us in this time when a mortal struggle is locked around us, enough light not to lose sight of you; enough light to be able to deliver it to those who need it more than we do.
Make the mystery of your Easter joy shine on us like the dawn of the morning. Grant us to be truly paschal people in the midst of the Holy Saturday of history.
Grant us that, through the bright and dark days of the time in which we live, we may always, with joyful spirits, c