Daily Reading & Meditation
37 While he was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him; so he went in and sat at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of extortion and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you.
Meditation: Is the Lord Jesus welcomed at your table and are you ready to feast at his table? A Pharisee, after hearing Jesus preach, invited him to dinner, no doubt, because he wanted to hear more from this extraordinary man who spoke the word of God as no one else had done before. It was not unusual for a rabbi to give a teaching over dinner. Jesus, however, did something which offended his host. He did not perform the ceremonial washing of hands before beginning the meal. Did Jesus forget or was he deliberately performing a sign to reveal something to his host? Jesus turned the table on his host by chiding him for uncleanness of heart.
What makes the heart clean and holy?
Which is more important to God – clean hands or a clean mind and heart? Jesus chided the Pharisees for harboring evil thoughts that make us unclean spiritually – such as greed, pride, bitterness, envy, arrogance, and the like. Why does he urge them, and us, to give alms? When we give freely and generously to those in need we express love, compassion, kindness, and mercy. And if the heart is full of love and compassion, then there is no room for envy, greed, bitterness, and the like. Do you allow God’s love to transform your heart, mind, and actions toward your neighbor?
“Lord Jesus, fill me with your love and increase my thirst for holiness. Cleanse my heart of every evil thought and desire and help me to act kindly and justly and to speak charitably with my neighbor.”
1 The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;
4 Yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Acts of mercy are examples of almsgiving, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
“What our Lord says, ‘Give alms, and behold, all things are clean to you,’ applies to all useful acts of mercy. It does not apply just to the one who gives food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, hospitality to the wayfarer or refuge to the fugitive. It also applies to one who visits the sick and the prisoner, redeems the captive, bears the burdens of the weak, leads the blind, comforts the sorrowful, heals the sick, shows the erring the right way, gives advice to the perplexed, and does whatever is needful for the needy. Not only does this person give alms, but the person who forgives the trespasser also gives alms as well. He is also a giver of alms who, by blows or other discipline, corrects and restrains those under his command. At the same time he forgives from the heart the sin by which he has been wronged or offended or prays that it be forgiven the offender. Such a person gives alms not only because he forgives and prays but also because he rebukes and administers corrective punishment, since in this he shows mercy… There are many kinds of alms. When we do them, we are helped in receiving forgiveness of our own sins.” (excerpt from ENCHIRIDION 19.72)