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 cummin, 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."
Jesus said: “…cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.”
Our Lord cuts to the chase with the scribes and Pharisees. He said, “cleanse first the inside..”! He admonishes them because they were prompt to do the external things that gave a good impression of themselves to others – but neglected the interior works which God can see. The exterior works cannot be neglected and must still be done but without neglecting the weightier things of the law: judgement, mercy, and fidelity.
The interior works are weightier.
The interior works are weightier because they involve the mortification of the heart – the circumcision of heart – which is painful and requires humility and obedience; this is more pleasing to God (Deuteronomy 10:16, Romans 2:29). But while the interior works are weightier, the exterior works (corporal and spiritual works of mercy) must not be neglected.
The Gospel reading from this past Sunday (Luke 13:22-30) pointed out how serious and essential the mortification of our heart will be when we stand before Jesus.
"…'Lord, open the door for us.' He will say to you in reply, 'I do not know where you are from. And you will say, 'We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.' Then he will say to you, 'I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!'…”
I thank our Lord Jesus that He instituted the Holy Sacraments, especially Reconciliation and Communion; these are the most effective cleaning tools of our interior life in addition to our prayer life. Our sanctification is a life-long process, however long it may be, but it depends solely on God’s grace and mercy, and our obedient response to it. Saint Monica, pray for us!