“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Matthew 23:13)
It is sad that despite the multiplicity of churches, evil seems to be on a rise in our society. Our real problem is hypocrisy. We are always trying to deceive people when we really cannot deceive God. We are like the men who brought the woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus. We have picked up stones already but we now need to listen to Jesus: “Let him who has not sinned be the first to cast a stone.” In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus accused the Pharisees of:
One. “Shutting the kingdom of heaven”. You wonder, how on earth can those who are leading people to heaven be the ones shutting the same door? Does my life proclaim a different Gospel from what I preach? Jesus said that they neither go in themselves nor would they allow those who want to go in.
Two. Jesus accused them of travelling far and wide to convert a single person to the faith only to make him or her a more qualified candidate for hell. Am I simply interested in increasing the number of persons who come to my church? As a priest or the leader of a church, am I more concerned about offertories, tithes, and seeds than the spiritual nourishment of souls?
Three. Jesus accused the scribes and Pharisees of not teaching the truth regarding swearing and oath-taking. How sound is my theology? What efforts do I make to update my knowledge? Jesus called them blind guides because they were teaching things that they themselves did not even know. These Pharisees taught that if one swears by the altar, it is nothing but if one swears by the gift on the altar, he is bound by the oath. This way, they seemed to place more emphasis on the gift than the very altar itself which again revealed where their true interests lied.
Let us examine our consciences and repent. We should not be so interested in attempting to convert anyone as much as we should be interested in living in the light ourselves.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, cleanse me from all forms of hypocrisy. Amen.
Bible Study: 1 Thess.1:1-5,8-10, Psalm 149 & Mat.23:13-22).