Spirituality is not Religiosity

Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God, and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?” (Luke 6:3-4)

Today’s Gospel passage teaches us a lesson: it is one thing to worship God but a different thing to simply be religious. While religiosity has to do with external acts, spirituality is that which ordinarily motivates these external acts. The problem of the scribes and the Pharisees was that they were very religious and yet lacking true inner connection with God.

As the Prophet Isaiah remarked, they draw near with their mouths and honour God with their lips, while their hearts are far from God, and their worship is a human commandment. (Cf. Isaiah 29:13). Jesus himself quoted this very passage of Isaiah in Matthew 15:8 and Mark 7:6. When the worship of God is not motivated by true inner spirituality, it becomes mere religion (human commandment, as Isaiah puts it).

Dear friends, the fact that Jesus defended himself for what he and his disciples did calls us to re-examine what we do as Christians. Are we worshipping God? Or could it just be that we are following human commandments? It is always important to ask: What is the spirituality behind this action? Am I doing it because of what others would think about me? How does it make me closer to God?

It is not enough that we follow the rule or observe the traditions of our faith, we must strive to be truly spiritual. God is not pleased with our external acts of worship as He is with our spiritual connection with Him. Jesus told the Samaritan worship that true worshippers will worship not on this mountain or on that mountain but in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24).

Finally, today’s first reading calls us to examine our relations with others. As St. Paul teaches, “You, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he (Jesus) has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in other to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before God.” (Colossians 1:21-22).

Hostility towards others is a sign of the absence of true inner spirituality. Just as Jesus’ detractors were hostile to him looking for faults at every instance, we could actually relapse into such hostility and forget the essence of our faith in God is love for our neighbour. Once we no longer love others, our worship of God becomes mere religiosity.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, teach us to love and not hate, to forgive and not revenge, to build and not destroy, to understand and not to falsely accuse others. Amen.

Bible Study: Colossians 1:21-23, Psalm 54 and Luke 6:1-5)

Fr. Abu

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