Fr Thomas’ Reflection for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Be True to God          

The relaxation of the COVID restrictions to allow small groups of five to have a picnic is good. As the Premier said, “it is important for mental health”. It is not enough to be concerned about what you eat, but equally important how we eat our food. Gathering and eating together are important because God has created human beings to be social beings. Food eaten in gatherings becomes a means of honouring the goodness and friendship of others. For the pious Jews like the Pharisees, the right choice of meat and ritual cleansing before eating were ways of honouring God. Hence there were laws about kosher food and ritual washing developed through the tradition. The original purpose and intention for these observations were good. But over time they were too pedantic about the rituals and forgot all about the purpose of them, honouring God. Spiritual growth and devotions to God is a matter of heart, not a ritual to be observed. Jesus, seeing their deviation from the true piety, told the Pharisees to be true to God and honest with themselves.

We Christians do not have to worry about the ritual cleansing and food laws. But Christians also could get caught up in cultural practices with apparent piety without proper regard for God. Unethical and immoral life will not be justified before God, even if someone decorates the house with a million religious pictures or sets up the most beautiful prayer space. Kissing the icons and touching the statues may seem religious. Such actions become true prayer only when accompanied with acts of love for others and trust in God. Are there religious practices you attach a lot of importance to, yet do not contribute to your spiritual growth? What are the rituals you waste your time on which does not honour God?