You have heard the holy Gospel, how the Lord Jesus, in what he was saying to the Pharisees, was of course also advising his disciples not to assume that justice lies in the cleansing of the body.
Every day, you see, the Pharisees used to wash themselves with water before they dined, as though a daily washing could constitute heart cleansing. Anyhow, he showed what they were really like. A man was speaking who could really see, who could perceive, I mean, not only their faces but also their inner thoughts. Well anyway, to prove this to you, that Pharisee whom Christ was answering thought something to himself without voicing it aloud, and yet he heard him. To himself, you see, he found fault with the Lord Christ, because he came to his dinner table without washing. That one was thinking, this one was hearing, and accordingly answering.
So what did he answer? Now you, Pharisees, you wash the outside of the dish, but inside you are full of trickery and robbery (Lk 11:39). What a way to come to dinner! How unsparing he was to the man who had invited him! Or rather he did spare him by scolding him, so that he could correct himself and be spared at the judgment. Then what was his message to us? That baptism too, which is only administered once, cleanses through faith.
But faith is inside, not outside. That's why it says, and you can read it, in the Acts of the Apostles, Purifying their hearts by faith (Acts 15:9). And the Apostle Peter speaks as follows in his letter: Thus he also gave you, he says, a comparison with the ark of Noah, how eight souls were saved through water. And he added, Thus by a similar form baptism will save you also; not the laying aside of the dirt of the flesh, but the examination of a good conscience (1 Pt 3:20-21). It was this examination of a good conscience that the Pharisees ignored, and instead they washed what was outside; inside they remained utterly defiled.
Saint Augustine. "Faith Is Inside." from The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century (New City Press: Hyde Park, NY).
The excerpt appeared in Magnificat.
St. Augustine, known as Augustine of Hippo (354-430), is the greatest of the Latin Church fathers. His Confessions (400) is a classic of world literature and a spiritual autobiography as well as an original work of philosophy. The City of God (412-27) is a monumental work of 22 books which presents human history in terms of the conflict between the spiritual and the temporal, which will end in the triumph of the City of God, whose manifestation on earth is the Church.Copyright © Public Domain
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