"You set aside the Commandments of God and cling to human traditions" (Mark 7: 8).
My dear friends, true religion is being true to ourselves: that we are who we are – no hypocrisy, no masks, no dual personality. Men and women who speak what they mean and do what they say. It means knowing that every law is given for our good and they are necessary for our peaceful human co-existence and for guiding us to salvation. Our response to God’s Commandments should be out of love of God and not out of fear; never for human accolades and recognition. True religion is being sensitive and responsive to the needs of our fellowmen. As St. James tells us in the Second Reading (James 1:17-18,21-22,27), religion that is pure and undefiled is: “to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” This is more pleasing to God than strict adherence to mere human traditions. To have a relationship with God, that yearning and longing for God that comes from the heart, whereby one can say with the Psalmist: “Like the deer that yearns for running streams so my soul yearns for You, O Lord” (Psalm 42: 1) is a better expression of our religiosity than a life focused on ritualism and mere human traditions. It is the heart that matters; the inside is more important than the outside; the internal counts more than the external. It is the quality of the heart not the quantity of actions that makes us God’s children. May the grace of God be sufficient for us all. Amen.