Mark 7:1-13 shows the hypocritical Pharisees and scribes chiding Our Lord and His disciples for eating a meal without performing the ritual washing. In response, Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah who says, “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” This saying should make every Christian think about his or her manner of life and acts of worship.
Nowadays, everyone want to be considered “authentic.” More specifically, “authentically good.” The clearest example of this is politicians who show up at charity dinners and soup kitchens for public recognition, but are not present for the monotonous, unseen work. The connection to the Gospel is this: the external appearance of our work matters little if it flows from the wrong internal motivation.
Much the same can be said of our worship. The words we speak and the postures our bodies take are meaningless if they are not preceded and accompanied by the proper movements of our hearts. The ideal for our participation in Holy Mass is full, active, and consciousness. For this to be the case for us we have to really pray the words of the Mass—both those we say aloud and those we say silently through the priest.
The correspondence between the external appearances we present and the internal disposition we hold is the difference between the authentic follower of Jesus and the chiding Pharisees and scribes. I propose that considering one’s own reverence is a good measure of how well one follows Jesus. If you answer “no” to any of the following questions, then consider it an area where your reverence is lacking.
- Do you prepare for Mass by prayer and review of the readings and prayers of the day?
- Do you bless yourself with holy water as you enter a church/chapel?
- Do you genuflect before Our Lord in the tabernacle?
- Do you talk unnecessarily in church before Mass?
- Do you recollect yourself to focus entirely on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?
- Do you intentionally engage yourself in the praying of the spoken words of the Mass?
- Do you say a prayer of thanksgiving after receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion?
Along with our participation at Holy Mass, we grow our reverence especially by praying the Holy Rosary and frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.