One of the biggest traps that Christians can fall into is worshipping God with our lips while our hearts are somewhere else. In the gospel reading from today’s Mass, Jesus chastises the Pharisees for this practice:
“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:
This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.
You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” He went on to say, “How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition! (Mk 7:6-9)
Most of us are going to look at these words and feel relief that we don’t fall into this category, but is that really the case? Some of the most faithful Christians commit this offense often and don’t even realize it. I have to admit that I have fallen into this trap many times.
As Catholics, do we ever look down on people of other faiths? Do we ever criticize or feel superior to our fellow Catholics who may not know much about their faith? How do we react to the people who “show up once a year” and cause Christmas Mass to be overcrowded? Do we ever lose our temper with family members because they interfere with our prayer time or religious observances? Do we ever daydream while we are saying the responses at Mass? Are we ever thinking about other things while we are walking down the aisle to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion? When we confess our sins do we really intend to try our best never to sin again? When we pray the Lord’s Prayer do we truly “forgive those who trespass against us”?
If you are guilty of any of these practices, join the club! That’s why it’s important to examine our consciences on a regular basis. The Sacraments of Confession and The Eucharist provide us with the grace that we need to eliminate some of these bad habits from our lives. God knows that we are not perfect and that we need His help to live good lives. We just need to try our best to ensure that we are not just worshipping Him with our lips, but also with our hearts.