An answering machine is a good thing in itself. But when we make a phone-call, we prefer to be
greeted-by a human being rather than by a machine. Yet, thanks to the marvels of modern technology, a persons voice can be there while the person is absent. Long before such gadgets as answering machines were invented people were able to do that-to be present in voice only.
Nowhere is this seen so clearly as in the case of worship. Jesus said of the Pharisees, "These people honour God with their lips but their hearts are far from him." People can be present in church in voice only, and so their worship becomes mere lip-service. and to make matters worse, that voice may not be their ordinary voice. It may be a solemn and serious one, put on specially for Sundays. Such people are no better than answering machines. The most important element is missing, namely the heart.
The Pharisees were sincere people. It's just that their efforts were directed at the wrong target. For them the exterior was everything. Hence, their concern about outer cleanness, and neglect of what was more important-inner cleanness, or cleanness of heart.
Jesus said that the source of evil is within us, it has is roots in the heart. We can't guard ourselves from it by separation from others. All those horrible things he lists, and which we read about in the
newspapers; fornication, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, pride, all these things start inside a person. Their seeds are within us all. These are the things that make a person unclean in the eyes of God.
This is a very disturbing truth, and one we ignore at our own peril. A great problem of our time is our failure to know ourselves, to recognise evil and deal with it within ourselves. Yet there is a kind of comfort and freedom in knowing and accepting this humbling truth. Today there is a huge preoccupation with cleanness of body. Hence, all the ads about soaps and perfumes. And there is great preoccupation with the environment, with the quality of the water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breathe. It's not that these are unimportant. It's just that there is another environment which is even more important, the moral environment. Evil is the worst kind of pollution of all. But if the source of evil is within us, so too is the source of good. All our thoughts, words, and deeds flow from the heart like water from a hidden spring. If the spring is clean, then all that flows from it will be clean. We must purify the source.
There is a story about a master who one day put the following question to some of his disciples. "What is the thing that one should avoid most in life?"
An evil eye, said the first.
A treacherous friend, said the second.
A bad neighbour, said the third.
A bad heart, said the fourth.
The master liked the last answer best, because it included all the others. Then he said, "What is the most desirable thing to strive for in life?"
A good eye, said the first.
A good friend, said the second.
A good neighbour, said the third.
A good heart, said the fourth.
The master liked the last answer best, because it included all the others.
We must strive for cleanness of heart. Total purity of heart is attainable here on earth. It is a struggle that will always go on. A pure heart is not the same as an empty heart. A heart that is full of love is a pure and healthy heart.
May God bless you all and your famalies.