What God demands from us is not necessarily our money, position and how spiritual we appear to be.
It is not how often we pay our tithes and offering. The true worship God demands is seen in how we truly love Him and treat each other.
Today, almost every family has a prayer warrior who prays and brings down fire from heaven but yet we destroy our families with hatred, envy, disunity, and injustice.
The country and state are blessed with thousands of churches but yet the rate of killing, kidnapping, bribery, unfairness, corruption etc are seriously affecting the growth of the country.
These problems are still perpetrated by the same people who go to church every Sunday and shout Amen to prayers and declarations.
What God demands from us is not how we claim to love Him but how sincere our love of Him is. His utmost demands are love, justice, kindness, defending the poor and willingness to stand up for the truth. It is also how we use what we have to save souls than destroy them.
In the Gospel
In the gospel of today, Jesus’ encounter with the Pharisees continues. He further proceeds to unleash three woes upon the Pharisees for their way of life. He accuses them of developing interest only in religious observances but neglects the essentials of what God demands.
Mints And Rues
Jesus says to the Pharisees: ‘Alas for you Pharisees! You who pay your tithe of mint and rue and all sorts of garden herbs and overlook justice and the love of God! These you should have practised, without leaving the others undone.
Mints and rue are herbs. The people normally use them for flagrant and medicinal purposes. So, instead of missing their tithes, the Pharisees go to the extent of using these herbs to maintain their religious observance.
Hence, Jesus accuses of them of strict observance of using even insignificant things to pay their tithe but totally neglect true love of God and justice, which they should have practised.
In essence, these are those who can go to any extent to keep their religious observance but their hearts are very far away from God. They do them, just to fulfill all righteousness.
Jesus also says “Alas for you Pharisees who like taking the seats of honour in the synagogues and being greeted obsequiously in the market squares”.
The Pharisees love greetings from market places and praises from people and cherish high places of honour, yet their hearts are very far away from God.
Jesus further accuses them of developing a love for unnecessary things that have no value in their relationship with God and the salvation of souls.
In essence, these are people who love honour more than salvation of their souls. They do things only to garner praises from the people.
In this group, God is not the center but themselves. They love to take the glory of God.
So, Instead of praising God for the work He did in their lives, they praise themselves.
Instead of thanking God for the gifts and graces He gives to them, they instead praise themselves. This is when we make ourselves the center of attraction instead of God.
Again, Jesus says to them “Alas for you, because you are like the unmarked tombs that men walk on without knowing it!”
He compares them to unmarked sepulchres that people walk on without knowing and hence defiling themselves.
The reason is that the Jews believe that anyone who has a little contact with a dead person defiles himself and should be seen as unclean for seven days ( Numbers 19:16).
So, they mark the tombs of the dead and often paint it with white, so that people will not contaminate themselves through any form of contact with the tombs.
Therefore, when Jesus calls them unmarked sepulchers, it means that just as unmarked tombs contaminate people, the Pharisees contaminate their hearers with false teachings.
This in essence means that the Pharisees contaminate people spiritually with their teachings and way of life. They mislead the people with wrong ideas about God.
So, instead of showing the people how loving God is, they burden them with an avalanche of laws not necessary for their salvation. Even when the lawyer speaks up, Jesus accuses also him of this.
In essence, these are those whose function is to mislead people with wrong ideas, wrong teachings and misconceptions. This is when we we become instruments that lead people away from God than leading them to God.
The Truth of What God demands
1. The Pharisees love vainglory, excessive pride and showing off, but Jesus demands true worship of God and humility.
Therefore, we do not worship God so that people will see us and clap for us. Our aim of worshipping God is not to satisfy the public eye. We do not come to God to give the impression that we are powerful and the best. What God demands is true worship of Him; in spirit and truth.
2. Today, shows Jesus’ willingness to stand, speak and defend the poor. This is the true essence of whatever position we occupy.
Every political, religious, and socio-economic position we occupy is for the interest of the people and not for our self-interests.
Therefore, always know that we are working to serve the people and for the growth of our nation. If every sector of the nation can understand this, then things will work out well for us.
3. Outwardly we may appear to honour God but inwardly we fill our hearts with hatred and envy. This is why despite the echo of our preaching and teaching, evil continues to increase.
What God demands from us is the true love of Him and not an outward show of how we love Him. It is also the true love of the people around us and not praying down fire to consume them.
God demands that we act justly in whatever we do with true love and regard of one another. He loves it when we become a light to others.
May God bless you dearest and give us the grace to live for the love of Him. May He forgive us in any way we have made mistakes in life. Amen