A 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.”

REFLECTION: "You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity."

What an interesting proposition: judgement, mercy, and fidelity.

In a world where we are not supposed to "judge", do we really don't judge?

Jesus didn't use words of condemnation for the Samaritan woman (Jn 4), or the adulterous woman (Jn 8). But in today's Gospel, and in other occasions, He spares no words against the Pharisees, or those he called hypocrites. They were supposed to be guiding people towards God, but instead they were using the law of Moses as a way to gain power and to oppress the people.

In any case, Jesus never turned away anybody who sincerely was repenting. He was always merciful to those who truly wanted to change their ways.

And He would tell them "Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more" (Jn 8:11). They were supposed to change their ways, not stay where they were.

When a person behaves badly, even worse, badly against us, it is a very human reaction to try to defend ourselves from their behavior: we scream back at them, say snarky responses to their comments, even go to others to defend ourselves against our aggressors and try to keep our reputations impeccable and without fault. Many times we make our aggressor look bad in front of others in our endless search for justice.

The hardest thing is to actually speak no evil against others, even when we are right.

To calm myself down, I need to spend time in front of the Tabernacle talking with God about this or at least make some quiet time with God. Spiritual direction from a priest is very helpful.

After receiving direction, and absolution from my outburst, comes the hardest part: To actually do what I've been advised to do. And keep at it.

We as humans are very eager to start something, but lasting, enduring and persevering are hard. We as Catholics can never take for granted fidelity and perseverance.

So I have to do an act of the will, and pull myself up, and keep in mind what I have to do.

And if and when I fail, then I will approach again the Sacrament of confession.

And start over...

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