- The Washington Times - Monday, September 4, 2000

Excerpts from a sermon given yesterday by Bishop Paul S. Loverde at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, Va.

Years ago, as I was listening to a homily, the priest used a phrase I have never forgotten: "Living from the inside out." Isn't this phrase a good summary for what God is teaching us through His word in this sacred liturgy? Isn't God saying to us: You should live from the inside out?
God desires that we honor Him not just with our lips, but with our hearts as well. God is reminding us that our lives as disciples of Jesus must reflect a real harmony between our external action and our internal attitudes.
We are Christians, disciples of Jesus Christ. This has consequences. Being disciples of Jesus means that we recognize Him as the Son of God. We believe that all He said and did are the words and actions of God himself. It is because we believe this that we have decided to follow Jesus and base our entire lives upon Him and His words of eternal life.
We heard St. Peter just last weekend in the Gospel affirm, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life. We have come to know and believe that you are the Holy One of God." Each day should find us echoing this profession of faith.
In our readings today [James 1:7-27; Mark 7:1-23], we are reminded that we are to live "from the inside out." Everything we do should be a result of what we believe. Let us consider some concrete ways in which we can live from the inside out.
First, take seriously our religious practice, the living out of our faith. Our faith must be expressed visibly and externally. And yet, religious practice is more than the externals. This is Jesus' point in today's Gospel: What you do externally should be in harmony with, connected to, the internal.
So, religious practice is basically a matter of having the right kind of heart or attitude, one that listens to the word of God and acts on it, as St. James tells us in the second reading, a heart which desires closeness with the Lord and with His people. When our hearts are centered on God, when the Lord is the treasure of our life, then external actions express this inner relationship with God.
A second way we live from the inside out is in our lives as citizens of this country. We are called to put into practice in our daily lives our belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; called to work for a more just society which will respect the dignity of every human person.
The U.S. Catholic bishops, in their statement "Faithful Citizenship: Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium" which I recommend all of you to read tell us: "The next millennium requires a new kind of politics, focused more on moral principles than on the latest polls, more on the needs of the poor and vulnerable… . more on the pursuit of the common good than the demands of special interests… . We must challenge all parties and every candidate to defend human life and dignity, to pursue greater justice and peace, to uphold family life, and to advocate the common good."
We have all heard people say: "I am Catholic, but I am pro-abortion; I am Catholic, but I don't go to church on Sunday." These are examples demonstrating that what is on the inside is not being carried out on the outside. If we wish to be genuine disciples of Jesus, we must live out our convictions in our personal lives and in society.
It is incompatible with the Catholic faith to support the taking of innocent life whether it be an unborn child or someone who is sick or suffering. As Catholic Christians, we must be tireless in the defense of life, the family and the common good. We must live from the inside out.
Making Jesus our model of living from the inside out, let us ask Him for the wisdom, the knowledge, and the courage to listen to His word, be transformed by it, and live it out in our daily lives.

Next week: a sermon by the Rev. Marcia Cox at Augustana Lutheran Church in the District of Columbia.

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