A frequently sung psalm antiphon invites reads: “Create in me a clean heart, O God.”  It echoes the spirit of Matthew’s words in today’s gospel. More important than external observance is the interior spiritual strength of mind and heart. Pope Francis frequently reminds us to take the road of mercy and forgiveness in our interactions with family, friends, and even total strangers. A merciful heart witnesses to a person’s faithfulness, grounded in God’s life and love. A forgiving attitude bespeaks another’s ability to accept me as I am, to walk with me when I am in trouble, when I doubt and even despair.

It can be convenient to put on a happy face and pretend that all is well, but this deception won’t last very long. Jesus reminds us today that it takes both courage and grace to face the demons within, and then to “clean up” the messiness in my relationships with othersespecially with those I live with and love.

So where do I begin…today?

—The Jesuit prayer team