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. Jul 2021 .
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Doctrines & Morals

Appear not before the Lord empty-handed

Eccles. 35:2-15, Mk 10:28-31. When Sirach joined in the Temple liturgy, he was filled with joy. His exuberance pours out while praising “the glory of his people, Simon the high priest” (Eccle. 50). What a contrast to the prophets who often excoriated the Temple priesthood for their laxity and self-serving ambition. The words of Hosea capture this: “With you is my grievances, O High Priest. My people perish for lack of knowledge. Since you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you as my priest” (Hosea 4:4). The prophets called out passionately for social justice and kindness towards the poor. Isaiah reduced the entire law to hearing the orphan’s plea and defending the widow (Ish 1:16). In today's first reading, Sirach shares this concern for the poor, stating that works of charity are equivalent to offerings of fine flour on the altar. He agrees that to refrain from evil and avoid injustice is the best kind of sacrifice. To worship God properly, we must be concerned for social justice. Sirach bids us never to forget the poor, even in the midst of elegant ritual with its pomp and circumstance. If we will not listen to the gentle voice of this wise teacher, the prophets will fling their threats at our conscience. At moments of prayer, when we are closest to God, we must not forget the poor, for all of us in our deepest need, turn out to be God’s poor ones.

To be sure of their standing before God, Peter asked the candid question in today's Gospel: “What about us? We have left everything and followed you.” He and his colleagues had given up much to be followers of Jesus. They may have wondered if it was really worth it all. We also have responded to God’s call, maybe not in such a radical way as the Apostles who left their livelihood and family for a very uncertain future. Perhaps we might be tempted to ask like Peter; “Is it worthwhile to stay in the Church, trying to live by the values of the Gospel day in and day out.” The answer is “Yes, in the long run it is worth the effort.” Jesus promises that when we give up ourselves for His sake, we will receive much more than we give up. In particular, we will gain a new experience of family, far beyond the confines of family ties. We will find ourselves co-travellers with others, who are trying to take the same path as ourselves; we will experience the richness of the Church, as the communion of saints. That community embraces not only those of us still on our pilgrim way, but all who have passed beyond this life, including the saints, that “great cloud of witnesses.”

May the Lord inflame our hearts to be generous and raise our hope in His love, so that we may recognise Him in the daily events of our life! Amen!! Good morning, have a joyful day!!!

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