If you prefer to use your own Bible, the references are: Reading 1: Galatians 5:1-6 Responsorial: Psalm 119:41, 43, 44, 45, 47, 48 Gospel: Luke 11:37-41
Reflection on Tuesday’s readings: “Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?” (Luke 11:40)
In today’s gospel Jesus sharply criticizes a Pharisee for placing too much emphasis on external ritual and not enough on an internal spirit of charity. To make his point, Jesus uses the image of cleaning a cup on the outside while neglecting to clean the inside.
The passage reminds me of a long-ago exchange about inner motivations with a holy woman who was serving as spiritual director to my Christ Renews His Parish group at St. Monica’s. She spoke to us about waiting until one’s heart was in the right place before moving into action. In astonishment I replied that if I waited for that pureness of heart I’d probably never act at all!
I think there was a piece of truth in both of our perspectives. It’s true that acting from the right heart/spirit brings power to even the smallest of acts. It’s also true that my heart is unlikely to be perfectly pure this side of eternity so I must act from where I am.
What strikes me today are Jesus’ words, “Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?” Because God made my heart, he knows it better than I do. I have to honestly admit my inner motivations are usually some confused mix of good intentions and less than laudable stuff. I need God’s light and grace to help me to look inside: to see, to understand, to purify.
Jesuit author, Wilkie Au says it well: In prayer we are invited to come as we are. Leaving our defenses and facades behind, we try to make ourselves transparent before the Lord … In prayer we must speak all that is in our hearts and minds. If we sit quietly and endure the silence, we will hear all the bits and pieces of ourselves crowding in on ourselves, pleading to be heard … To bring our total selves in transparency to prayer is to let the Lord listen in on this inner racket.
“Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?” also holds tremendous encouragement. Somewhere inside me is a heart fashioned after God’s own heart. Somewhere inside me is a heart where God has chosen to dwell. That inner reservoir of divine life and love wants to move out into the world through me—to wherever I go, to whomever I meet.
The inside of my cup may never be perfectly clean. Nevertheless, I trust that God who made it can use it for His purposes.