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Gospel Reflection for 22nd Sunday Ordinary Time, Year B, September 2nd 2018
Mark 7:1-8. 14-15.21-23
The Religion of the Heart
She was a religious woman in her seventies and spoke to me about her grandson who was gay and was now inviting her to his marriage to his same-sex partner. She knew what she wanted to do – to go to the wedding and wish him well out of her love for him.
Deep-down she wondered did she agree with what he was doing. She had heard of church rules and regulations. Her heart told her that love for her grandson was more important, and that meant never closing the door of love.
There can of course be a great security in human customs and church tradition. Jesus knows this, and he knows that he has to speak strongly to get beneath religious traditions, rituals and laws to the real love-message of the gospels.
God looks at the heart; as Jesus put it in the gospel today. Of people who are too focused on ritual and law for their own sake, he says, ‘their hearts are far from me.’
Our Christian faith is based on a love-relationship with God. From this love, our actions and our rituals flow. From this love flows our non-judgemental attitude to others. Into this love happiness enters from God and flows from us to others. Words of Pope Francis re-iterate this: Keep your gaze fixed on Jesus Christ and learn from him how to love with a truly human heart, to care for the lost and hurting members of his flock, to work for justice and show solidarity with the weak and the poor’ (To Sacred Heart Missionaries, May 2018).
Of course she should go to the wedding!
Donal Neary SJ
Editor of The Sacred Heart Messenger and National Director of The Apostleship of Prayer