Hypocrisy is so easy to accomplish. What people don’t see or hear, people don’t know, am I right?
You’re there on Sunday morning, dutifully kneeling, making the sign of the cross and bowing at the proper time. But before you even get out of the parking lot, you’ve …
A. Shared some gossip about the guy in the front pew.
B. Looked a little bit too long at the pretty girl in the back pew.
C. Cussed out the driver in front of you because he cut you off.
But who is gonna know? Who can read our minds or our hearts? Who would want to?
This is one of the biggest struggles to take place within the silence of our souls on a daily basis. We all want to do the right things, and we often go through the motions. But then it becomes so easy for our nasty habits to come back to us.
We live in the culture of today, rather than choosing to live in God’s culture.
That’s the essence of today’s readings, particularly the Psalm … a section of Psalm 50 that does a pretty good job of showing just how high the bar really is.
“Why do you recite my statutes, and profess my covenant with your mouth, though you hate discipline and cast my words behind you? When you see a thief, you keep pace with him, and with adulterers you throw in your lot. To your mouth you give free rein for evil, you harness your tongue to deceit.
“You sit speaking against your brother; against your mother’s son you spread rumors. When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it? Or do you think that I am like yourself? I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes. Consider this, you who forget God, lest I rend you and there be no one to rescue you.
“He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me; and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.”
God is asking us directly: Do we think he is deaf to what we are thinking in our minds, hearts and souls? Do you think we can hide from him?”
This Psalm is often mentioned in the same breath as Psalm 24, which was one that was chanted on the way into the Temple. It clarifies exactly who was worthy of going into the Temple to worship God.
“Who may go up the mountain of the LORD? Who can stand in his holy place? The clean of hand and pure of heart, who has not given his soul to useless things, what is vain. He will receive blessings from the LORD, and justice from his saving God.”
The Psalmist did not say that those who “observe the law” by saying prayers, going to Mass or fasting on Fridays will get into heaven. No, the indication here is that one must be pure of heart, not just pure in the eyes of others.
That’s a big distinction we often miss in our daily lives. It’s great to do good deeds and be recognized by others. But if, in the silence of our hearts, we twist those good deeds into something that serves us, rather than serving God, then those deeds mean nothing.
And if we think an hour on Sunday is enough to punch a ticket to everlasting life, we are in for a big shock.
Nobody is perfect. We all slip. We all need humility and regular confession and penance in our lives.
For when we are no longer breathing and cannot control our own destiny, won’t we want to “lift high those ancient doors” and enter salvation with a clean heart?
That’s what God wants from us. Let us strive daily to make it happen.