Bible text: “First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean”. Matthew 23.23-26
There was a story about a farmer who one morning very upset to discover that his field was ravaged by unknown wild animals. So the following day, he kept watch over it and find out what are these animals devouring his crops. He saw some piglets of wild boar and shot all of them dead. A day after, another group of piglets are lavishly feeding themselves in the field. The same story happened for almost three days in a row. He was frustrated so he consulted his fellow farmer how to get rid of the pest in his field. He was advised; hunt the gilt first before focusing on the piglets. Once the gilt gets killed, you can easily eliminate the piglets.
Today Jesus is sternly reminding the Pharisees and scribes once, stop focusing on the appearances but first work on the inside. They regularly required from people tithing to the temple but they disregarded educating them about justice, mercy and faith. During the time of Jesus, people around will always notice whether a person is bringing offerings to the altar or not. However, mercy and faith are virtues deeply seated in human heart which is hard to notice whether someone has it or not. A person can devoutly do the tithe but he may lack faith and compassion. This is the sad story that might happen to a person appearing to be good but deep inside full of impurities and selfish motives.
The heart of conversion is the conversion of the heart. Change in attitude without any connection to the heart is superficial. Transformation that begins in the heart is indeed real because man’s attitude and character are first conceived in our hearts. The sacrament of reconciliation is very important for this purpose. It aims to uncover human impurities, gives us opportunity to admit our most discrete sins and give us sanctifying grace to transform us once again. We should neither be afraid of sacrament of penance not perceive it as hindrance but understand it a way for us to heal our sinfulness and grow in our spiritual life. Healthy heart means healthy appearance.