After Jesus had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.”( Luke 11:37-41)
Modesty is extolled as a virtue in most parts of the world. It is an admirable quality except . . .
Except when it comes to living our faith.
In today’s scripture, we read of the Pharisee who wanted to hear more from this extraordinary man who spoke the word of God as no one else had done before. It was not unusual for a rabbi to give a teaching over dinner. Jesus, however, did something which offended his host. He did not perform the ceremonial washing of hands before beginning the meal. Jesus turned the table on his host by chiding him for uncleanliness of heart.
Which is more important to God – clean hands or a clean mind and heart? Jesus chided the Pharisees for harboring evil thoughts that make us unclean spiritually – such as greed, pride, bitterness, envy, arrogance, and the like.
He reminds us that love is the foundation of our faith. Love is a relational virtue, not a ritualistic virtue.
If we truly believe that Christianity is founded on the two great commands then Christ expects us to live those commands abundantly. So abundantly that we stand out.
After all, if we appear the same as everyone else in our day-to-day activities, if our faith does not somehow set us apart, it is questionable how much we really are living out our faith. So, wherever we work, whether it is in an office, whether our work now is going to school, whether our work is caring for a home or driving a truck or working on an assembly line or using our retirement years to help others, whatever job we have, we need to work in such a way that it manifests that we are followers of Jesus.
We do that with three qualities . . . integrity, compassion and witness.
Those that follow Christ work with integrity. They do not bend the rules of the office to their own advantage. They do not put others down to make themselves look good or to prime themselves for a promotion. People know that their word can be trusted, that they will make decisions based on the common good rather than their selfish ambition.
Those who follow Christ also work with compassion. They are aware of the people around them, whether the people in their home or around them. They are willing to take time to listen to a child or to a spouse after a difficult day. They pick up clues from their co-workers of some problem or stress and let them know they are available for support.
Those who follow Christ are also willing to give witness to their faith. They are willing to let others know that they are Christians, that they believe in Christ. They are willing to find ways to let others know that they believe in God and that they value that belief. By acting in this way they witness that they are believers and testify that Christ makes a difference in their lives.
Jesus is the way the truth and the life. But faith is not sufficient in itself. It must be lived out in a way that it reflects God’s love in our lives. Those who are willing to live their lives with integrity, with compassion, and a willingness to witness identify themselves as true followers of Jesus.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, fill me with your love and increase my thirst for holiness. Cleanse my heart of every evil thought and desire and help me to act kindly and justly and to speak charitably with my neighbor.”
God wants to bring us to a living faith that is operative in love. St. James will tell us in his epistle that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). True Christian faith is shown by the way it leads us to try to love like God loves, to the way it makes us patient and kind and all the other attributes St. Paul describes in his Canticle of Love (1 Cor 13), to the way it helps us to sacrifice for God and our brothers and sisters, even to the point of laying down our lives for them. We clean our insides not by rituals of egg-shells of water but by self-giving love, which when done from the heart rather is a great spiritual detergent. Today is a day on which the Lord is calling us to ponder whether our faith bears fruit in generous giving of ourselves and what we have to others.