Wednesday - Ordinary Time
1) Opening prayer
our help and guide,
make your love the foundation of our lives.
May our love for you express itself
in our eagerness to do good for others.
You live and reign with the Father and the
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Luke 11,42-46
Jesus said: But
alas for you Pharisees, because you pay your tithe of mint and rue and all
sorts of garden herbs and neglect justice and the love of God! These you should
have practised, without neglecting the others.
Alas for you
Pharisees, because you like to take the seats of honour in the synagogues and
to be greeted respectfully in the market squares!
Alas for you,
because you are like the unmarked tombs that people walk on without knowing
A lawyer then
spoke up. 'Master,' he said, 'when you speak like this you insult us too.'
But he said,
'Alas for you lawyers as well, because you load on people burdens that are
unendurable, burdens that you yourselves do not touch with your fingertips.
● In today’s Gospel the conflictive
relation between Jesus and the religious authority of the time continues. Today
in the church we have the same conflict. In a determinate diocese the Bishop
convoked the poor to participate actively. They accepted the request and
numerous began to participate. A great conflict arose. The rich said that they
had been excluded and some priests began to say: “the Bishop is doing politics
and forgets the Gospel”.
● Luke 11, 42: Alas for you who do
not think of justice and love. “Alas for you, Pharisees, because your pay your
tithe of mint and rue and all sorts of garden herbs and neglect justice and the
love of God. These you should have practiced without neglecting the others”.
This criticism of Jesus against the religious heads of the time can be repeated
against many religious heads of the following centuries, even up until now. Many
times, in the name of God, we insist on details and we forget justice and love.
For example, Jansenism rendered arid the living out of faith, insisting on
observance and penance and leading people away from the path of love. Saint
Theresa of Lisieux, the Carmelite Sister grew in a Jansenistic environment
which marked France at the end of the XIX century. After a painful personal
experience, she knew how to recover the gratuity of the Love of God with the
force which has to animate the observance of the norms from within; because,
without the experience of love, observance makes an idol of God.
The final observation of Jesus said: “You
should practice this, without neglecting the others”. This observation
recalls another observation of Jesus which serves as a comment: “Do not
imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to
abolish but to complete them. In truth I tell you, till heaven and earth
disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, is to disappear from the Law
until all its purpose is achieved. Therefore, anyone who infringes even one of
the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be
considered the least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but the person who keeps them
and teaches them will be considered great in the Kingdom of Heaven. For I tell
you, if your uprightness does not surpass that of the Scribes and Pharisees you
will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 5,17-20).
● Luke 11, 43: Alas for you,
because you like to take the seats of honour. “Alas for you, Pharisees, because
you like to take the seats of honour in the Synagogues and to be greeted
respectfully in the market squares”. Jesus calls the attention of the disciples on the hypocritical behaviour of some Pharisees. They like to go
around the squares with long tunics, and receive the greetings of the people,
to occupy the first seats in the synagogues and the seats of honour in the
banquets (cf. Mt 6, 5; 23, 5-7). Mark says that they lied to enter into the
houses of the widows to recite long prayers in exchange for some money. Such
persons will be judged very severely (Mk 12, 38-40). This also happens today in
● Luke 11, 44: Alas for you,
unmarked tombs. “Alas for you, Scribes and Pharisees, because you are like
whitewashed tombs that look handsome on the outside, but inside are full of the
bones of the dead and every kind of corruption” (Mt 23,27-28). The image of
“whitewashed tombs” speaks of itself and does not need any comments. Through
this image, Jesus condemns a fictitious appearance of persons who are correct,
but interiorly there is the complete negation of what they ant to appear to be
on the outside. Luke speaks about unmarked tombs: Alas for you, because you
are like those unmarked tombs that people walked on without knowing it. “. Anyone
who walks on or touches a tomb becomes impure, even if the tomb is hidden under
the ground. This image is very strong: on the outside the Pharisee seems to be
just and good, but this aspect is deceitful because inside there is a hidden
tomb, that without people being aware spreads a poison that kills, communicates
a mentality that leads people away from God , suggests an erroneous
understanding of the Good News of the Kingdom. It is an ideology which makes of
God a dead idol.
● Luke 11, 45-46: Criticism of the
Doctors of the Law and response of Jesus: A lawyer then spoke up and said: “Master,
when you speak like this you insult us too!" In his response Jesus
does not turn back, rather he shows clearly that the same criticism is also for
the Scribes: “Alas for you lawyers as well , because you load on people
burdens that are unbearable, burdens that you yourselves do not touch with your
fingertips!” In the Sermon on the Mountain, Jesus expresses the same
criticism which serves as a comment: “The Scribes and the Pharisees occupy
the chair of Moses. You must therefore, do and observe what they tell you, but
do not be guided by what they do , since they do not practice what they preach.
They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on people’s shoulders, but will they
lift a finger to move them?” (Mt 23, 2-4).
4) Personal questions
● Hypocrisy maintains an appearance
which deceives. Up to what point does my hypocrisy reach? How far does the
hypocrisy of our Church go?
● Jesus criticized the Scribes who
insisted in the disciplinary observance of the minute points of the law, as for
example the to pay the tithe of mint and rue and all forts of garden herbs and
forget the objective of the Law which is the practice of justice and the love.
Can this criticism also apply to me?
5) Concluding prayer
How blessed is
anyone who rejects the advice of the wicked
and does not
take a stand in the path that sinners tread,
nor a seat in
company with cynics,
delights in the law of Yahweh
and murmurs his law day and night. (Ps 1,1-2)