Our first reading today is from Micah, a prophet from before the year 700 B.C., and he speaks about what is needed for gaining favor from God. In that century, with there being no hope for an afterlife, people followed religious practices mainly to get bountiful harvests.
There seemed to have been a variety of current opinions as to how best to gain God’s favor and a subsequent rich harvest. There were some who said that the sacrifice of year-old calves would do the trick. Others recommended the pouring our of streams of processed olive oil. Others said that if you want to grow very rich you will need to make a burnt offering of your first child.
Micah, a true prophet who speaks only what God has him say, tells one and all, “What the Lord requires of you is only for you to do what is right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God”
That is similar to what we hear from the Apostle James (1:27) “Religion pure and simple before God is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”