A theme which I know you've heard time and time again is the necessity of Christians living out their faith and not merely giving it lip service. If we say we're Christians but don't strive to live up to what Jesus commands of us, we end up looking like hypocrites. To live our faith, however, there must be a way by which the teachings of Our Lord enter into our lives and become part of how we act and think. As Christians, we must hear the Word of God and allow it to bring about conversion in our lives.
First, we must hear the Word of God. Moses challenged the Israelite people, “hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe” when he gave them the Mosaic Law which was revealed to him by God. We believe that the Scriptures, the Sacred Tradition of the Church, and the teachings of the Magisterium have been revealed to us as the definitive Truth by Our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, we know that the three sources of revelation contain the teachings of Our Lord and serve to bring us closer to Him. To take our faith seriously, we need to seek out opportunities to immerse ourselves in the revealed Truth of Christ.
Now, I realize that people's lives are busy, especially parents who feel they never have a moment's peace to just relax, but you don't need to dedicate large amounts of time and money to studying the Scriptures or theology. It can be as simple as printing out the daily readings from the Internet and spending five minutes reading through them every morning or evening. You could get a copy of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is a more concise, question and answer formatted book based on the much larger Catechism of the Catholic Church, and read through a couple of questions a day. There are also good resources on-line for learning about the faith through simple, short essays.
Of course, the ultimate way we immerse ourselves in the Word of God is through attentively participating in the Mass on a weekly basis, at the least. Every week, we hear three readings from the Scriptures along with reciting one of the Psalms. Also, many of the prayers that we pray during the Liturgy come directly from the Scriptures. It's not always obvious in the current English translation that this is happening, but the new translation coming out in a couple of years will make these Scriptural links more apparent. By paying attention to the Scripture readings and prayers at Mass, we allow these passages of Scripture to enter into our hearts.
Second, we must allow the Word of God to convert us. Our Lord tells us today in the Gospel, “Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” If you ever want a quick list of sinful thoughts and actions, Our Lord gives us a pretty good one in this Gospel passage. If we're honest, many of us will look at the sins Our Lord mentions and probably recognize a few from our own lives. We all have areas in our lives that need to be converted.
Whatever those areas in need of conversion, our hearing the Word of God should challenge us to pray for the graces necessary to overcome our sins. As we immerse ourselves in the Truth which has been revealed by Our Lord, it will be like a light shining on our souls showing us where in our lives sin remains. This is where the virtue of humility and the Sacrament of Confession come in. We need to have the humility to admit that we are sinful people in need of God's forgiveness. Likewise, we should be led to ask for forgiveness from others for those times in which our sins affected them, as all our sins impact those around us – there are no “private” sins. Most importantly, we need to resolve with God's grace to avoid committing those sins again, even as we're aware that we might slip into sin again and again. We need to trust in God's grace that we will allow His Word to work on our souls, cleansing us from the attachment to sin.
Remember, we are challenged to be attentive to the Word of God and allow it to convert our lives. May the Scriptures we just heard begin this process in our lives today.