First, there is the person we think we are. Then, there is the person others think we are. But then there is the person we really are---and that is the person God sees.
There is always the danger of fooling ourselves into thinking we are someone that we are not.
"This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me" (Is 29:13)
Christ teaches us that simply following religious rules does not translate to a relationship with God. This was the problem with the proud pharisees, who meticulously followed Mosaic laws to the letter feeling quite confident in their relationship with God.
These men were devoted to saying prescribed prayers, following all the religious rules and participating in ceremonial rituals. They spent much of their time in the temple performing the prescribed sacrifices, fasting regularly and talking a lot about God, yet Jesus said they were far from God.
Are we far from God? When we go to mass, is it just to fulfill a weekly obligation? Or do we joyfully look forward to having a personal union with Christ in Holy Communion in order to feed our life with truth and grace to share with others?
"For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? do not even the publicans this? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more? do not also the heathens this? Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect."
Click on the links below to listen to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen speak about what it means to be a Christian:
BRIEF AUDIO LESSONS
"To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” --Luke 18:9-14