From the Inside Out
17 October 2017
Today is the feast of Ignatius of Antioch, the great early Church father and bishop of the church at Antioch. Tradition holds that he was a disciple of John the Evangelist. He was condemned for refusing to renounce Christ under the Emperor Trajan, and on his long journey in custody to Rome, he wrote a number of letters to Christian communities, urging them to stay faithful to the Catholic faith. It is in Ignatius’ letters that the word ‘Catholic’ is applied to the Church for the first time. He died for his faith in Rome, torn apart by wild animals, in 110 A.D.
Today’s gospel has the Pharisees on the receiving end of a strong word of correction from Jesus. He doesn’t mince his words:
“Oh, you Pharisees! You clean the outside of cup and plate, while inside yourselves you are filled with extortion and wickedness.”
The outside of the cup looks clean while the inside is filled with muck.
Perhaps it is not just Pharisees that this applies to?
As practising Christians we can put up a good front in terms of the face we present to the world, but we all know that our interior life can be a different story: Pride, jealousy, lust, vanity, anger and judgementalism on one hand; Fear, anxiety, insecurity and self-condemnation on the other.
We see ourselves from the inside out and oftentimes we don’t love what we see.
It’s not surprising then that we find it hard to believe that God could really love us.
Now don’t pretend this isn’t a struggle.
We are quite happy to believe that of course God loves all the other people in our lives, but me, with all this muck inside? The answer of course is a thundering YES from heaven. He loves even you. Especially you.
You have to get that straight if you are going to make any progress on cleaning the inside of the cup. God’s love is so powerful that it is a person all of its own: The Holy Spirit. He is the one who cleans out the garbage and heals what’s broken. Invite the Spirit into your heart today!