A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 23:23-26
Jesus said: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. But these you should have done, without neglecting the others. Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self indulgence. Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean."
The Gospel of the Lord Praise be to you Jesus Christ.
REFLECTION: Do Not Neglect justice, mercy and faith.
In the Law of Moses, 10 % of the fruits of the earth were to be tithed. God had commanded this tithe as an expression of thanksgiving.
The Pharisees added mint, dill and cummin to the tithing, making tithing more expensive. In their outwardly signs of generosity to the temple they lost track of the more important obligations to their neighbors such as justice, mercy and faith. They were misleading their people and for this, Jesus rebuked them.
In his words to the Pharisees, Jesus is harsh, severely rebuking them —” Wow… hypocrites, blind guides, full of plunder and self indulgence.” The Pharisees showed zeal and piety mainly for the accolades and the honors. Unfortunately, they neglected the top 2 commandments—love of God and love of neighbor. They put unnecessary burdens on their people, while neglecting to show charity, respect, justice, and mercy to them and teaching the faith of their ancestors. .
Two centuries later and we find ourselves hearing the same harsh words by Jesus. But is he really angry, or is he drawing our attention to that which is not correct? When a child puts his fingers in an electric socket, do we calmly say, “ please, dear, no touch” or do we yell out “No”? Do we gossip, rush to rash judgment, or act unjustly toward our neighbor? Do we feed the needy, clothe the homeless, pay fair wages, or respect right to privacy? Do we respect life both for the unborn and for the terminal, do we hold our tongues, do we believe everything we read and then repeat it, are we well informed about that which we are passing on to others? Do we dedicate time to our family, care for the sick? Do we murmur about our church or do we report misconduct in our church?
Jesus has to shout at times to catch our gaze, our attention and get through our deafness. Our priests, clergy, and spiritual directors have to speak harshly to us as well. They love our souls and love has no boundaries. Rather than balk at what is happening to us, let us ask Jesus to hold our hand and to show us how to lead a virtuous life. There are joys in beautiful things—both from the inside as well as the outside.
PRAYER: Dearest Lord, cleanse me both inside and out. Harsh words are nothing because we know you love us and as any good parent, we want to be disciplined, and shown the way so that we can spend eternity in your Kingdom. Amen
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