August 28-29: Preparing for this Sunday’s Mass

If integrity means being “complete, undivided, and whole,” the kind of integrity Jesus models for His disciples is remarkable. As we see in Mark 7, 1-23, Jesus’ integrity is always validated by words and deeds; He does what He says and He says what He does. The pure of heart, and Jesus is the purest of heart, are pure in action, and so integrity, as Jesus lives it, is making daily actions line up with the heart’s values.

Integrity demands that we stand for both what is the right and the upright thing to do. If we look carefully at the person of Jesus, three things become obvious, and these are three ways to maintain and strengthen our own integrity. 1. Be the same person in front of the crowd as you are behind the scenes. The real test of one’s integrity is a crisis or being under stress. That is when we reveal who we really are, for good or ill. 2. Be careful not to conform. Do we notice that about Jesus? He is the ultimate non-conformist! Integrity is about doing the right thing regardless of what others think or do. St. Paul in writing to the Romans says it straight out: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world.” 3. Recognize right now that having integrity is hard work, a challenge day in and day out, and it only comes through endurance. It’s slow going. But it bears abundant fruit.

“This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” is the lament of Jesus standing before the hypocritical leaders of the people, who are always picking away at Him, squabbling with Him, watching and waiting for Him to do something that will give them evidence or reason not to believe in Him. They say things they do not mean. They do things because others are watching them, and they want to look good and (supposedly) holy. He turns to us today, His disciples in this age, and calls us to genuine integrity.

Let us pray. “Lord our God, help us follow your Son by walking in spirit and truth, and living each day with trust in your guidance, empowered by your grace. Cleanse our hearts and help us learn  your ways. Teach us to be people of integrity and to trust in your loving care. We thank you for being faithful to us. Help us to step out into the future now with our hands in yours. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

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