Thursday, September 3, 2009

Religion - Pure and Undefiled

The next time I am reading in church, I will be reading from the Letter of James, so I was pleased to see this reflection from Padre Rogelio Cruz, a priest who lives and works among the poor in the Dominican Republic.

by Padre Rogelio Cruz
El Día
9/2/2009

I will start this reflection with the only definition of religion that appears in the Bible and is found in the Letter of James (1:27), which says: "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world."

Admittedly, this letter of James the Apostle is a very concrete and direct writing, because the author says that Christianity is not to be believed in, but to be lived out, faith without works is dead faith.

Rather than talking about religion, we must live in a true and authentic manner. Today there are many religious movements that are limited only to lots of hallelujahs and proclaiming that Christ is coming, forgetting the commitment to the liberation of the oppressed.

Jesus denounced this evil religion, that leaves aside the commandment of God to cling to the traditions of men.

God must be worshipped in spirit and truth, i.e. with the totality of our being.

It is necessary to differentiate between the commandment of God and the tradition of men, to see where faith -- true religion -- begins, and where legalism begins.

That's why today from a religious perspective we state that today's world is in upheaval, the old structures are crumbling. Everything is in crisis.

The crisis also reaches the religious world and the worst of it is that the churches are alien to this convulsed world or have turned their back on it, though not in all cases, since in Latin America, from the stance of liberation theology, we seek to give a different answer.

Against all this and from religion a religious perspective we continue to proclaim a Christ who is the light for the mind, a Christ who is strength for the will, who is present in the love toward others, who gives us strength to oppose injustice wherever we find it and who gives us a spirit of gentleness and tolerance to endure so much adversity.

Religion has much to say to the world of today. Let us live a pure and undefiled religion.

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