In today’s first reading the prophet Micah tells us that what God really wants from us is our hearts. That doesn’t mean that religious practices, such as sacrifices in the Old Testament or liturgy in the Church today, aren’t necessary. It means that the purpose of every religious practice is to unite our hearts to the heart of the Holy Trinity.
God tells us what is necessary to have a daily walk with Him
You have been told, O man, what is good,
and what the LORD requires of you:
Only to do the right and to love goodness,
and to walk humbly with your God.
In the psalm for today, God tells the Hebrew people outright that their religious observances – even though they were commanded by God Himself – are empty if they do not involve the hearts of His people.
The Pharisees in Jesus’ time placed a lot of importance in religious observances. To their credit, they saw religious observance as a way to stay committed to God in the environment of Roman paganism. But Jesus came to take them the next step. He wanted to show them the purpose behind the ritual – love of God. That’s why he’s so harsh with them in today’s Gospel. Despite their commitment to following the Law that God gave to Moses, the Pharisees were deaf to God’s Word to them in the present. They didn’t see that Jesus was revealing to them to fulfillment of the Law of Moses by leading them to love. The pagans of Nineveh heard the call of God through Jonah. The Queen of the south recognized the wisdom of God through Solomon. But the Pharisees were closed to the very Word of God.
Also published on Medium.