Tuesday, Oct. 13th 2020

Tuesday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Mass Readings


The subject of tour Gospel today is ritual cleansing.

One day, Jesus exclaimed loud enough to be heard: “You Pharisees! You are so diligent about cleansing the outside, but on the inside, you are full of rapaciousness! Did he who made the outside not make the inside as well?” Jesus was addressing that Pharisee who had invited him to dinner but then was surprised – shocked even – when Jesus failed to carry out the prescribed ablutions before eating.

Complex cleansing rituals may well have borne a useful symbolism in the Old Law; but of themselves, they can do nothing to cleanse us on the inside or save us from the consequences of sin. We rely, therefore, on Jesus Christ himself, knowing that we are cleansed by him, and through him, and in him.

The washing ritual began by pouring water over the fingertips, then over the fingers, and finally over the wrists. It ended in reverse order: over the wrists first, then the fingers, and then the fingertips. Jesus very likely did not disdain those rituals as such, since, after all, clean hands are expected at table. But he did disdain paying more attention to the rituals than to one’s higher obligations, such as God’s command issued through Isaiah, to “feed the hungry, house the homeless, and clothe the naked” (Isaiah 58:7). Jesus continued: “If you share what you have in alms, everything will be made clean for you.”

The first reading is taken from St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians: “Neither circumcision nor the lack of it makes any difference whatsoever for one’s salvation. What matters is one’s faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6).

You may remember from studying chemistry in high school that litmus paper turns red when dipped into a solution of acid. Red indicates that acid is present. Similarly, faith coupled with love reacts like the litmus paper does if we are thinking about salvation. Faith and love together will show that salvation is truly present. How truly and visibly
is the work of salvation coming along in my life?

Reflection by Fr. Quentin Kathol, OSB

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