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Externals are easier than the Internals
The Pharisees are really an interesting group. On the one hand, they are very serious about their faith. They really do believe that by their actions, they’re doing what God wants. But truth be told, they’re getting it backwards. Over time, they’ve become to see their desire to separate themselves from the unclean, have led them to focus more on externals than on internals.
In other words, the external prescriptions of the law, like purifying oneself before meals, has become more important than being concerned about asking God to purify their heart. Rather than being able to be generous to those in need, they have created exceptions so that they don’t have to be generous to those in need. And they do this all the time.
While the people around them are really suffering and having difficult lives and really not being treated well, Jesus tells them you’re putting more burdens too heavy for anyone to lift in the lives of people.
Now we’re all tempted to do this because observing something externally is much more easy than paying attention to the internal conversion of the heart. It’s not that all these external things are bad in and of themselves, but they are supposed to primarily be signs of the internal conversion that we are asking God to help us to undertake over and over and over again in our lives.
But that’s hard stuff. It’s interesting because all we need to do in one way is open ourselves to God and ask for His grace and then to cooperate with it. But that’s a lot harder than it sounds.
It means we have to be kind to those we may not like. We have to be generous even though we might be afraid there might not be enough for us. We have to forgive those who wrong us, maybe even significantly. And most of all, it’s difficult because we have to recognize that left to our own devices, we don’t always make good choices. Let us ask the Lord today to help us to recognize the grace that He has given us so that our external actions may reflect our internal conversion.
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