Isaiah 1:10,16-20 ● Matthew 23:1-12
Quit your worship charades. I can’t stand your trivial religious games:
Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings— meetings, meetings, meetings—I can’t stand one more!
Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them! You’ve worn me out!
I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion, while you go right on sinning.
When you put on your next prayer-performance, I’ll be looking the other way. No matter how long or loud or often you pray, I’ll not be listening. And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing people to pieces, and your hands are bloody.
Go home and wash up. Clean up your act. Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings so I don’t have to look at them any longer. Say no to wrong. Learn to do good. Work for justice.
Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless.
This is a prophet at his strongest and most challenging! He sees through religious pretense and calls for true justice. Our God, Isaiah says, wants action, not lip-service.
Isaiah’s words can be quite convicting to those of us with religious commitments. Can we drop any defensiveness and re-evaluate if the church programs, committees, and parish events we participate in are taking our time, energy, and money away from helping the down-and-out, standing up for the homeless, and going to bat for the defenseless? Is God calling you to change in some way?
Reprinted with permission. For more information about this booklet and Bible translation, please see TheMessageCatholic.com.