MONDAY, TWENTY FIRST WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
1 Thes 1:1-5, 8-10; Ps 149:1-6, 9; Mt 23:13-22
TURNING AGAINST ONE’S OWN
Some of us may wonder why the Lord, who spoke of eight blessings upon the mount, now pronounces eight woes. Is he uttering a curse? No. On the contrary, he was trying to make the Pharisees and scribes realize, not out of anger but out of compassion, the misery they were heading towards. It is a sad thing to be away from the Lord and worse when one leads another away from the Lord. Therefore, Jesus said, “It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble” (Lk 17:2).
The scribes and the Pharisees were not focused on God’s kingdom; neither did they allow others to inherit it. They became stumbling blocks to the gospel and instigated others to reject it. What would happen if a soldier hated his own nation and instigated others to do the same? Would the nation be able to defend itself in the event of an external attack? Would those soldiers filled with hate, fight to protect it? The Pharisees and scribes, who were respected as teachers of the Law of God and spiritual leaders, were living immoral and selfish lives. Added to it they justified their deeds, presenting themselves as examples for others. Therefore, Jesus condemns them for their outward appearances, for wearing godliness outside and being filthy within.
Are we, at times, guilty of the same corruption? We have been given the gift of faith, the gift of the gospel and the gift of the sacraments. We have been given the gift of the Church and the graces and blessings that come to us through its ministry and the various spiritual exercises and practices. Have we misused all that we have been given, to put on a garb of holiness that hides our inner selfish desires? Furthermore, do we justify our choices and decisions which are contrary to the mind of Christ, thus influencing others to do the same?
Response: The Lord takes delight in his people.
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