Monday 22 August 2022 – HYPOCRITES AND BLIND GUIDES

Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

1st Reading: 2 Thes 1:1-5, 11-12

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the Church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, as is fitting, because your faith flourishes ever more, and the love of every one of you for one another grows ever greater. Accordingly, we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God regarding your endurance and faith in all your persecutions and the afflictions you endure. This is evidence of the just judgment of God, so that you may be considered worthy of the Kingdom of God for which you are suffering. We always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and powerfully bring to fulfilment every good purpose and every effort of faith, that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, in accord with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel: Mt 23:13-22

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves. “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.’ Blind fools, which is greater, the gold, or the temple that made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If one swears by the altar, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.’ You blind ones, which is greater, the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it; one who swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it; one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who is seated on it.”

HYPOCRITES AND BLIND GUIDES: Jesus condemns the scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites and blind guides. Hypocrisy is insincerity. It is pretending to have qualities or beliefs that one does not have. It is doublespeak and double standard. Jesus accuses them of hindering people from entering God’s kingdom. As experts on the scripture, they were aware that the law and the prophets find fulfilment in the life and works of Jesus but failed to acknowledge it, excluding themselves from the kingdom and preventing others from entering into it. Their missionary efforts are also hypocritical because they harmed the spiritual lives of the converts. They were also accused of discouraging oaths sworn by the most sacred things and shifting the oaths to less important things. The accusations of Jesus could be applied to many Christians who considered themselves as righteous before God and people. Let us not be hypocrites and insincere people.

Prayer:  Lord let me be light to others and guide them towards you.

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LIFE OF INTEGRITY: A true Christian is called to be a witness to a life of integrity. The inner life and what is perceived from the community must be one. St. Paul offers us an example of a life of integrity. Paul is totally a new man, different from Saul. He lived an exemplary life and that is why he keeps repeating to the church of Thessalonica to remember how he and his colleagues carried themselves around. We must be such an example that we need not introduce ourselves. When our lives are not connected to what we teach and profess we become hypocrites like scribes and Pharisees. We hinder people from accessing the Kingdom of God and instead we lead people to hell. Integrity means that what we speak and what we do should be consistent.

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LOVE AS THE KEY TO THE KINGDOM: The Pharisees and Scribes in the time of Jesus believed and taught that observing the rules and regulations of the religions is doing the will of God. They focused more on the law and forget about the spirit of law which is love. Love is the key to heaven. Even if one follows all the petty rules and regulations strictly but forget about love, one closes the door and blocks others from entering. The love is word that is most misunderstood and misused today. The true love is a self-giving attitude. The call to love others as we love ourselves is the way enter into the kingdom of God. Saint Mother Theresa says “love until it hurts”. Everybody is given this key of love in one’s heart but it is up to each one to use it to open the kingdom and enter and leave the door open for others to enter the kingdom.