Sunday, September 28, 2014

Words and Deeds

If you follow "news" in the world of the Internet, particularly the blogosphere, it would appear that the only sin left in the world is hypocrisy. Almost anything else is OK.

But what exactly is hypocrisy? The word was originally a theater term, it referred to an actor wearing a mask. Hypocrisy is an intentional hiding of our true self. It is pretending to be someone we are not.

It's opposite would be the virtue we should all strive for, integrity. In the truly integrated person our thoughts, feelings, and most importantly (according to today's gospel) our actions are all one. We are one person. And if you are a Christian that oneness must include oneness with God and his will. True Christian integrity is oneness of mind, heart, and action with the will of the Father.

Each time we pray the Our Father we pray for the grace needed for integrity, "thy will be done".

The reality is that most of us sin. There are four Greek words for love, but there are seven for sin. One of the used 151 times is the New Testament is amartia, which is an archery reference. It means to miss the mark.

Missing the mark does not make us hypocrites. It just means we are human. The good news is that like the archer, with practice and the help of God's grace we can hit the mark.

Yes it would be nice if our thoughts feelings and actions were all aligned, all the time. But today's reading reminds us that the actions are the most important. Be kind even if you don't feel like it. Be polite to the person who annoys you even if you don't feel like it, and when the thoughts in your head are anything but charitable. That is not hypocrisy, that is not pretending, that is allowing the Holy Spirit to act in spite of you. Act like a Christian and you will surprisingly turn into one.

The son who went out into the vineyard may not have wanted to, he may have done it begrudgingly, but in the end he did his Father's will. And according to Jesus that's what matters.

In the end, a tree is judged by its fruit and we are judged by our actions. Strive each day for integrity, but in those moments when your thoughts and feelings are not Christian, let the Holy Spirit aim, and you will not miss the mark.