Friday, 15th Week in Ordinary Time               

            “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

            Jesus wants us to understand that since the purpose of sacrifice is to bring us into closer union and deeper relationship with God, worship should make us more like God. Like God, we must be rich in mercy.

            Jesus is condemning those who are turning religion from something beautiful into something ugly. They are turning religion into something God never intended it to be.

            Jesus is warning us to guard against identifying religion with performing external acts. For example, going to church, saying prayers, reading the Bible, or giving to charity do not, in themselves, guarantee holiness. Because we can be doing these things for the wrong reasons or having selfish motives or without love in our hearts. “What counts is not what we do. What counts is the love in our heart that motivates us to do what we do.” (Mark Link)

            Religion is about worshipping God with all one’s heart and loving one’s neighbor as one loves oneself. Religion is about relationship – right relationship with God and neighbor. It is not about rites and rituals; it is not about laws and traditions. In fact, if these things hinder us from living out the true spirit of religion, we should not hesitate to set them aside or even abandon them.

            Christian religion is not just something we do at certain times on certain days. Jesus is reminding us that religion cannot be rooted on external actions; because, first and foremost, it comes from the heart. Religion is a thing of the heart. It is a thing of the heart called LOVE – love of God and love of neighbor. Religion is a loving response to a loving God.

            Our worship of God at Mass should make us more like God. Let us allow our hearts to be formed after the heart of God – a heart that is full of mercy and forgiveness, a heart that cares and shows compassion to the need, a heart that beats only for love. God wants us to be compassionate, understanding, and merciful as he is. Being like God in this way should be the fruit of our worship. Let us make our religion a religion of feeling compassion, showing mercy, doing justice, and practicing love.

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