Wednesday, August 26, 2009

From The Inside Out

Walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into his Kingdom and glory.
1 Thessalonians 2:12

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.
Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.
Matthew 23:27,28

St. Paul tells us in our first reading that we are called to walk worthy of our God. The distinctive mark of a Christian is our lifestyle. We are to imitate Jesus. We are to reflect His love. Our faith is not merely theoretical, but practical. We practice what we preach. But lest someone think it's all about how we appear, we also have our Lord's exhortation in Matthew's Gospel. It's not sufficient to look good on the outside. Our inside must look just as good to God. The two are related.

We are inwardly pure when we maintain a constant vigilance over our own hearts. We guard ourselves against sin. We fill our hearts and minds with praise and thanksgiving to God. We are continually in prayer. We meditate on God's Word and we receive of the Sacraments. In this way we are made into the image of Christ. We truly have fellowship with God. This inward purity then spills over into a life of outward purity as well. If we are truly pure in heart, then it will inevitably show to others around us. However, the reverse is not necessarily true. People can look good on the outside but be a mess inside. This was the situation our Lord was addressing.

The problem is that if we look good on the outside it is easy to be deceived. We have others fooled and we may even be fooling ourselves. Outward obedience alone is never sufficient. It must be the overflow of a vibrant relationship with God. Only then does it carry the power necessary to be life-changing for us and others around us.

Where do we stand today? Are we even maintaining an outward appearance of holiness? If so, is that the result of inward holiness? The readings call us to carefully examine our state, inside and out. Let us be diligent to do so. Let us be pure in heart and walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls us!

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