Today we honour the memory of Saint Rose of Lima. Saint Rose was the first South American to be canonised, and she led to say the least, a very interesting life, and devoted much of it to prayer and penance, especially for those who had fallen away from the Church, and for the holy souls in purgatory. Good works that we should perform every day.
Life can be unpredictable at times. Just think about how illness and disease can sneak up on us and catch us completely by surprise. Many problems can go undetected until they are too advanced, while we have been going about our lives as if nothing were wrong. I suppose this is why doctors stress the importance of regular check-ups. They urge us not to concentrate only on how we look on the outside, while ignoring the danger signs inside of us.
The scribes and Pharisees who opposed Our Lord had a similar problem, only theirs was a spiritual issue. They suffered from a disease called hypocrisy that was eating at them from the inside. Our Lord didn’t challenge them because they were too religious, but because their lives were out of balance. By focusing so much on external piety, rules and disciplines, and so little on the interior life, they were leading others away from the true purpose of the Law that they claimed to love so much.
Our Lord’s warning is meant for us, too. But we shouldn’t read it as a condemnation or judgment. It’s really intended to get us to come in for a check-up: to examine what is in our hearts so that we can be whole. Do I let little resentments pile up inside, allowing for the risk that I will become a bitter person? Am I experiencing the fruits of the Holy Spirit, or do I need more joy, peace and patience in my life?
The only way that we can clean the inside of the cup is to make sure that we remain in close contact with Our Lord. We need to hear his voice, and if we can’t, then it’s time to slow down and listen. When we allow ourselves to be filled up with his word, our prayers are raised to a whole new level of worship. And just as importantly, we are able to love the people around us as he loves us: with the love of the Cross that can change hearts and bring heaven down to earth.