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February 9, 2016

Tuesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

The good news for the Day

Jesus, speaking to Pharisees upset about non-washing of hands: “Isaiah told the truth precisely about you play-actors (as it is written): ‘This group honors Me with their lips, but their hearts are distant from Me; their worship of Me is empty because they are teaching as divine doctrines some directives that are just human ones.’” (Mark 7)

How easily we accept the words of others about how to behave, what standards to use, and what is Good and what is Evil. You assume religious leaders know that kind of thing—or political leaders have common sense to direct and guide the body politic into beneficial ways. Deeper than that—you and I, without thinking about it, sometimes just accept a value or custom from the past that is not right. “It’s the way we always done it.”

In the past, Christian leaders promoted slavery—and differences between races—as God-given. In the past, societies accepted absolute monarchs, cruel tyrants and vicious dictators—from God!—as acceptable means of dealing with conflicts. On a more local level, we have accepted practices of prejudice against groups, of unjust exclusions from neighborhoods, and—for example—rejection of a brother whom a family has considered a sinner.

In doing so, you and I—and society—become mere actors using a script written by others, mouthing their words and directions—and submerge soul, heart and conscience into a sinful sea of conformity—hypocrisy. Our Father in heaven calls you—in your conscience, acceptance of uncomfortable truth, and prayer-life—to discern the difference between human rules and divine guidance. The Good News is that you grow and change as you acknowledge that big difference, as you see religion as a support, not a tyrant—that faith guides, but also frees you. A Child of Our Father, you write your own script, your destiny independent of the tragedy in which others want to control you.

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