Rom 1:16-25; Ps 19:2-5; Lk 11:37-41
The whole world marvels at the glory of God. All creation is the very handiwork of the LORD. We cannot, not notice, the beauty and goodness of creation from the hand of our loving Father. Many peoples over the course of human history have at least been awestruck with the order and intricacy of the earth. In this beautiful creation the human family has affirmed what we have come to call Natural Law. Just from the way things are made and how they interact we have come to discern a pattern of moral order. What is good and bad is obvious to our conscience upon reflection. Such innate divine guidance evokes heavenly and human praise to declare the glory of God. This word of praise flows from day to night, and it enlightens all people. As many theologians have taught we are made with the capacity to listen to the Word. As human beings we are able to hear and respond by the grace of God to the implicit and explicit Word of God. Indeed, all through the earth the message of the LORD’s love and justice is to be heard and lived for our own good and for the glory of His Name, from age to age, “not a word nor a discourse whose voice is not heard.” Saint Paul is not ashamed to proclaim the gospel, and we are summoned to the same mission. As our Lord Jesus explains in today’s gospel, religion is more than ritual purity. By our faithful witness of purity within and without, we reveal the splendor of truth. It is this Eucharist that enables us to be faithful to such a life-long witness.
Saint Paul writes to the community of believers in Rome to convince them that the truth of the gospel has been proclaimed for the good of all people, both Jews and Greeks alike. This gospel of Saint Paul is the power of God poured out into our hearts for the salvation of everyone who believes. Right relationship with God is based upon faith; trust in the truth that is revealed in the gospel. Those who have faith live in a right relationship with God. Saint Paul is convinced that, “what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them.” God has made known his invisible attributes and power in the visible creation. Who he is and what he expects of us is made understood and perceived in what he has made. Therefore, no one has an excuse for unbelief or immorality. Through pride and trust only in their own power of reasoning, many have refused the light that shines out in the darkness. The great irony here is that the very power of human reasoning that can bring us to the light of faith is the same power that can keep us in darkness. When we no longer trust that we know that truth is the conformity of the mind to reality, we rely upon pride and reject revelation. It takes humility to trust in the truth that God reveals in nature and in revelation. This prideful rejection of God and his ways elicits the just wrath of God. We exchange the glory of the immortal God for the lusts of our own hearts and condemn ourselves to lives of mutual degradation. We bring into human life the full consequence of our pride. We suffer alienation from God and his creation. We no longer feel at home in neither creation nor welcome into the fellowship of the LORD.
In his pride the Pharisee, who invited the Lord Jesus to dinner, condemns him for not observing the prescribed washing before the meal. It was more important for the Pharisee that every good Jew was ritually pure than that he was pure of heart. The Lord Jesus challenged this obsession with external observance and revealed the hidden attitude within the heart of his host. The Pharisee was holding within his heart a desire to discredit the ministry and preaching of the Lord Jesus. How could the Lord Jesus be a leader and teacher if he did not observe the very basic rules that every good Jew would observe. His lack of observance was proof that his teaching was not pure, and that he was not from God. This lack of hospitality to the Lord Jesus revealed a deeper lack of hospitality to the Word of God. The Pharisee would not open his heart to anyone who did not display ritual purity and this made his heart impure. The Lord Jesus continued to invite his host to conversion by saying, “Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.” Like Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans, the Lord Jesus appeals to the Maker of both the visible and the invisible creation. When we recognize the authority of our Creator, the love of God and neighbor becomes our rule of life. In being generous to others by giving alms, we express in the visible world a certain generosity of heart in the invisible world. Only when we are generous both inside and out will we be clean inside and out. Only when we show hospitality to our neighbor at our own table will we be welcome at the table of the LORD. Then and only then will our Divine Host shower us with his hospitality.