March 2

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” vs.1

Religions were developed by humans for some good reasons. They provided a way for people to worship and discern the Divine Presence in the creation. Through the centuries, worship practices were developed to give expression to faith, codes of ethics for community living took shape, and eventually particular writings and stories were adopted as sacred scripture. For the most part these religions, major and minor, have served a useful purpose and have given spiritual direction to billions of people. But sometimes, instead of pointing the way to God, these religions have become ends in themselves and have wreaked havoc with their endless competitions and crusades. Jesus saw that danger in his own religion and warned his followers about those who had subverted the faith. These religious people had turned the worship of God into worship of self and did religious things, almsgiving, prayers, and fasting, not to please God or help humanity, but to elevate themselves in the eyes of others. Religions are still around–Christianity is one of the biggest–and they can be capable of promoting wonderful spiritual growth. Indeed, many people today have found great fulfillment in their associations with religions–their desire for a connection with the Divine is satisfied. But Jesus’ warning remains: beware of religious people! After all, they’re the ones who killed him.

Thought for the Day: How can I avoid becoming religious?

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