28th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Gal 5:18-25
Brothers and sisters: If you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.
Gospel: Lk 11:42-46
The Lord said: “Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb, but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God. These you should have done, without overlooking the others. Woe to you Pharisees! You love the seat of honor in synagogues and greetings in marketplaces. Woe to you! You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk.” Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply, “Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.”
LIGHTEN THE BURDEN: Jesus is harsh on the so called Pharisaic attitudes, not on all Pharisees and Scribes. Jesus’ call is to make life simple, rather than burdening it with outdated rules and regulations. Jesus condemns all practices done for drawing attention of the people or seeking status and reverence from them. In so far as our practices are devoid of love of God and compassion and mercy towards the poor, we are no better than the whitewashed tombs full of uncleanness and distortions inside. The Lord wants the church to be a symbol of God’s merciful love. Pharisaism is very much alive in our society and the church as it was in Jesus’ time. Paul also challenges us to be people who live in the Spirit and not follow the ways of the flesh. He has clear criteria to distinguish people who follow the Spirit and flesh.
Prayer: May we always follow the ways of the Spirit, Lord.
REWARD FOR EVERYONE: In the first reading, God is warning those who judge others. If we judge others, we store up their wrath. On the judgment day, God will pay everyone according to their work. Those who persevere in good works, honor and immortality will be their reward. Those who judge others and the wicked, will profit from wrath and fury. Jesus condemns the ways of the Pharisees which do not pay attention to judgment and love of God. They show pride by demanding seats of honor in synagogues and greetings in market places. From the Pharisees, we learn not to have pride and dignity of social standing, but rather have sincerity and warmth. Let us not be like tombs. If we are humble, the Lord will give us His grace and reward us with eternal life on the judgment day.
PRAYER: Lord, may you help us to receive you honor when you will come to judge the world.
BE HUMAN BE HOLY: The Pharisees were so worried about keeping their own appearance of perfection that they ended up building a wall which blocked them from experiencing God’s love. Such attitudes disconnect us from our own humanity and reduce us to mere doers of the rules and regulations. In this way, we prevent ourselves from experiencing God’s closeness and forgiveness and, at the same to accept others as they are. We know that God helps us in weakness, save us in our infirmities, and through them we experience God’s grace (2 Cor 12: 9-10). It is not the law but the heart that takes us to God and makes us acceptable before Him.