Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.
Jesus unmasks an attitude that affects us as much as it did his contemporaries: turning faith into a mere sum of rituals, precepts, and traditions. Religious habits alone can’t save us when something serious comes our way. They can be nothing but pure gestures that end up hampering the most important thing: knowing and loving the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
If a fast, a prayer, a religious tradition loses sight of its goal, which is to foster a relationship with Christ, we may eventually become religious experts while remaining atheists in the most existential sense of the term – that is, we might be living without God.
No religious practice should take the place of a living relationship with Jesus. If a precept, even the most praiseworthy one, becomes more important than Jesus himself, then this means that we became hypocrites – the same hypocrisy Jesus denounces through the words of the prophet Isaiah:
“This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.”
Keeping our hearts close to Him is our truest concern. I am reminded of so many communities, associations, or church movements that oftentimes defend their standpoints, their traditions, and their laudable habits to the point of idolizing them. They risk relativizing Christ instead of relativizing themselves and their own traditions. We must always be vigilant; no one is immune from this risk.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.