Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8. The just will live in the presence of the Lord – Ps 14(15):2-5. James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27. Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23.

True religion is of the spirit – not merely a matter of outward observance

Outward observance without conversion of heart is useless and, at its worst, simply hypocrisy. On the other hand, the spiritual heart will show itself in outward observance; for our Lord, who told us that the Father looks for those who worship in spirit and in truth, also said, ‘If you love me, keep my commandments . . . do good . . . fast . . . pray . . . give alms.’

We need, then, to review often our lives to see that there is a genuine harmony between our inmost heart and our visible manner of acting. And so, Lord Jesus, with the psalmist I pray, ‘Create a clean heart in me; and make upright the spirit that is within me’ – so that nothing that is evil may come from me and that nothing I do will be mere pretence.

If, as St James says, faith without works is dead, so, too, are works without faith dead things; they are lip-service and not a turning of the heart towards the Lord. Humanity is capable of so much that is good as well as much that is dreadful. The difference lies in whether we enthrone Christ in our hearts and live by his law or enthrone self and live by self-will.