The true essence of religion

Let us be careful not to miss the point of religion which is to love God with all our hearts, with all our minds, and with all our strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

I believe in the importance of religion because I believe that God is a god of order. In the Old Testament, God was very specific as to how He wanted the tabernacle to be erected. He showed Moses a vision of the heavenly sanctuary on which He based the pattern of the tabernacle. In the book of Leviticus, God was also very specific as to how He wanted the Levitical priests to serve Him in the temple.

St. Paul wrote about this in his letters to the Hebrews:

“They worship in a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary, as Moses was warned when he was about to erect the tabernacle. For he says, ‘See that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’” — Hebrews 8:5

As Catholics, we believe that our celebrations of the Mass give us a glimpse of heavenly worship where we share in the love of God.

But many times, we miss the point of religion.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus reminds us of the true essence of religion.

“I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” — Matthew 5:20

The scribes and the Pharisees were “experts” in the law given to Moses. But despite knowing the “how-to’s” of worshipping God, they often missed the essence of why they were doing the things they did. Jesus even said to them:

“Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.” — Luke 11:46

They knew the Law, but they missed the point of the Law. They missed the point of religion.

The true essence of the Law and religion is love.

Many times, we ourselves miss the point of our traditions, our Sacraments, and our practices by failing to truly love God and our neighbors.

What is the point of attending Mass if we do not know how to forgive and reconcile with our brothers as Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel reading?

Religion was designed to love God and to love our neighbors as Jesus would always tell His disciples and followers.

Are you a religious person? Do you regularly attend Mass?

Let us be careful not to miss the point of religion which is to love God with all our hearts, with all our minds, and with all our strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves.