I hate, I scorn your festivals, I take no pleasure in your solemn assemblies. When you bring me burnt offerings... your oblations, I do not accept them. Spare me the din of your chanting, let me hear none of your strumming on lyres, but let justice flow like water, and uprightness like a never-failing stream! Amos 5: 21-24
As the New Jerusalem Bible attests (p. 1531, commentary n), these verses affirm that God is against formalism in religion. The people may chant for the whole day but it amounts to nothing if they promote injustice. And it even equates to nought if they persists on unrighteousness and non-uprightness.
Solemn assemblies only counts if "neighbourly love and social justice are not neglected." (commentary n, p. 1531).
As in the coming Holy Week, sacrifices are good in a sense if the inner disposition behind it is satisfied just like obedience to God, sincere gratitude and thanksgiving! Fake formalities are passé.
But why? Because we can't fool God! God knows the innermost dispositions of our heart. We will just be wasting our time if we do sacrifices to appear holy or to please the assembly.
We must remember that: in everything we do, we must think about what pleases God! In every move we make, we all must do for the glory of the One who created and loved us with an everlasting love. Now, remove your gloomy faces and fast as if God knows it alone. Thus, He will give you a reward for your steadfastness and sincerity!
Cynthia Abegail Bernardo