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Having the courage to purify our hearts | Word Alive

Steve Angrisano

Friday, August 27, 2021

Detail of The Pharisees Question Jesus by James Tissot. Image courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum

Having the courage to purify our hearts

A reflection for the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

by Steve Angrisano

The Gospel this week is pretty compelling reading! It's not unusual for Jesus to shake things up. Remember the story of the workers in the vineyard? Each gets the same wage no matter whether they worked for a few hours or for the whole day. This makes no sense! If you did this in real life, it wouldn't be long until NO workers showed up in the morning!
In this Gospel passage, when asked a question about ritual purification (washing hands and bowls when eating), Jesus again answers in a way that the Pharisees do not expect. He tells them that it’s not what comes from the outside but “the things that come out from within that defile.” From within come things like jealousy, anger, greed, and unchastity. Jesus was not advocating for a lack of cleanliness. He was pointing out the hypocrisy of ritual purification if one does not also purify what is deep inside their hearts. The caution here is that you and I can too easily become a little bit like the Pharisees.
I take great comfort in the ritual of praying daily and going to church on Sunday, and there is certainly nothing bad about that! But it should be a reflection of the inner journey that is also taking place – a journey of purifying my heart and making space for God by getting rid of the things that may have inadvertently become little gods in my life. If you slap a coat of paint on a broken down little shed, it looks ok for a bit, but the reality of the rotten wood makes the whole effort a little pointless in the end.
The same is true for us. Jesus is calling us to make the ritual of our faithfulness a reflection of the true state of our soul. This means not just going through the motions but having the courage to take down the rotting pieces of wood and rebuilding with something stronger. In doing so, piece by piece, we become a new creation in Christ! That is the real work of the faithful: living with the honesty, generosity, and faithfulness that Jesus calls us to every day of our lives and in so doing, being transformed into the Body of Christ.

The readings for the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, are
Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8
James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Steve Angrisano is a singer, songwriter, and storyteller, and one of the most effective and versatile ministry leaders in the Church today. Young and old alike embrace the passionate message of faith, hope, and love woven throughout his music and storytelling. Always rooted in a spirit of humility and faithfulness, Steve’s easy, honest style of ministry is born from who he is: a committed witness to the life and love of Jesus Christ.

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