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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

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St. Jerome Emiliani
St. Josephine Bakhita

Genesis 1:20—2:4
Psalm 8:4-9
Mark 7:1-13

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a lip reading

"This people pays Me lip service." —Mark 7:6

When Jesus said that the Pharisees paid only lip service to God, they probably took this as we do when we hear this passage read at church. They realized Jesus was quoting Isaiah 29:13, so they may have brushed off Jesus' words as only a Biblical reference and not a personal call to repent. As with us, probably few Pharisees thought they were guilty of lip service.

Jesus tried to break through the self-deception of the Pharisees by giving some tell-tale signs of lip service. Jesus maintained that those paying lip service also disregard God's commandments (Mk 7:8). This is also an indictment of our own society, for never has a culture disobeyed and disregarded God's commands as much as we have. For instance, through abortion and other acts of violence, we have killed more people than any other culture has. We may also hold the world record for idol worship (putting things ahead of God), taking God's name in vain, not keeping holy the Lord's day, not honoring our parents, adultery, stealing, bearing false witness, and coveting. Jesus implied that those who disregard His commands are guilty of lip service, whether or not they realize or admit it.

If you are not obeying the Lord's commands, repent and cry out with Isaiah: "Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips!" (Is 6:5) The Lord will send an angel holding an ember to purify your lips (Is 6:6ff) or He will purify you in some other way. Repent of lip service.

Prayer:  Father, purify my lips when I receive Your Son's body and blood in Communion.

Promise:  "God blessed them, saying: 'Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.' " —Gn 1:28

Praise:  St. Jerome lived his call to holiness in obedience to God by caring for the sick and hungry at his own expense.

Rescript:  †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July27, 2010

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