Put On The Full Armor of God
13th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
August 29, 2021
Readings: Deuteronomy 4:1-9
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Christ instructs us to be witnesses of God’s life in our own lives. The Gospel today speaks of the importance of guarding our heart, guarding our soul because out of it comes the essence of life. Many times, we tend to interpret the things of God to suit our needs. To make things work our way. We call these traditions.
The Pharisees who were sticklers of the Law came towards Jesus with the intention of criticizing Him and His disciples. They see the disciples eating and they began reprimanding Him saying, “why are the disciples eating with unclean hands?” For them, the Law was the basis for everything. In their time, cleaning hands involved a tedious procedure. There was a specific process that was being followed to the letter. It was a ceremony for them. The washing itself was very intricate and they were meticulous up to the very last detail.
When Jesus did not follow these procedures to the letter, the Pharisees started to question Him. To them, the washing of the hands was something holy. Their relationship with God was only secondary. Jesus calls them hypocrites because they had made traditions their religion, their god. Jesus told them that it’s not what you take in that defines you. It’s what’s coming out of your heart. These people neglect the teachings of God but hold on to the traditions of man.
If we are to compare with what’s happening today in our own lives, we should really examine ourselves if we are making the traditions of man more important than our relationship with God. We say we believe and worship Him but do we love our neighbor? Do we show concern to the needy? It should be the words of Christ that should be guiding us. “You are far from Me because your heart thinks evil,” Jesus tells them. If we have Christ in our hearts and He is pure, we will not be drawn to doing things which are evil and contrary to His ways. We would be able to reject temptation. If our hearts are pure, we would be guided properly.
Ephesians 6: 10-17 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”
Our struggle is not really in the things of this world but it’s more of a spiritual struggle. We need to feed on His bread. He gives us strength to battle against spiritual forces. When we evaluate problems in a fleshly manner and try to conquer these by using our human reasoning, we will fail. We need to take up the full armor of God to gird ourselves with the truth. In doing so, we will be living in peace no matter what circumstances come our way. Our salvation comes from Christ, and we should not waver. If we walk in His ways our lives will be blessed.
The schemes of the devil are seen vividly today with the Covid crisis. We have tried to fight this battle using our human ways when it is a spiritual battle. We are being tested now. Are we going to follow the principles of God? A spiritual response is what we need to conquer what we are facing today. Being human, we may be weak many times, so we must feed on the Bread of life everyday to get our sustenance. Our confidence should be in God.
Be strong in the Lord. Guard your hearts. We long for many other things when we should be longing for a deeper relationship with God. He is the answer to everything. We must put our confidence and faith in Him. He is our source.
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