Keeping up Appearances

Keeping up Appearances By Fr. Morgan V. Rice, CSB If I am going to watch any TV shows, I tend to opt for the British ones such as those on PBS’s Masterpiece. I look forward to Sunday nights to spend an hour or so watching Downton Abbey, Sherlock, or whatever series is airing. In my earlier years, one of my favourite British shows was the sitcom Keeping Up Appearances with the colourful character Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced “bouquet”, please!), who sought to follow the etiquette book to a T. Appearing proper and limiting the amount of association she had with the “less-respectable” members of her family, she always sought to impress others “of importance”, including the Anglican vicar. Often, though, what she tried to downplay or hide rose to the surface to humorous effects! One of the things that we human beings are sometimes very concerned about is looking good. I invite us to consider the appearance we put forward and who we might be trying to please or impress. I admit that physical appearance is important to me; it bothers me when my shoes are not polished or when I have not had time to iron my shirt, though many people would never notice or even care. Some people’s concern might be avoiding looking old or weak; others might want to avoid the appearance of ever being wrong. Whatever we do to maintain a particular appearance can take a lot of energy and effort that perhaps could be directed in more beneficial ways. In the Gospel this weekend, Jesus decides not to keep up the appearances that the Pharisees and scribes are expecting him and his disciples to have. For example, they are not washing their hands before they eat, and they are being judged for not doing so. Yet, Jesus is not swayed. Instead, he points out that what is truly important is what flows out of us from the heart. In the second reading, St. James writes of the importance of being a “doer” of the word, that is putting our faith into action. Like it was for Jesus’ disciples, living this way might solicit criticism rather than popularity or praise, but living out God’s word within us is what will help us to appear most authentically as a reflection of Christ.


Sunday’s Readings:

Deuteronomy 4.1-2, 6-8

Psalm 15

James 1.17-18, 21-22, 27

Mark 7.1-8, 14-15, 21-23