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Wednesday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, as I spend time with you reflecting on the Scriptures, keep me free from distractions so that I may hear what you want to say to me.
- Focus: Our Lord chastised the Pharisees many times for their hypocrisy and in these first few lines. He criticized their empty pious gestures. They tithed every garden herb, with meticulous attention to the law, but did so without reverence, respect, or love for the Lord. We strive to love the Lord, but we can also sometimes just “go through the motions” of Mass attendance, rosaries, novenas, confession preparation, etc. In every instance, our acts of piety are received into the loving hands of God our Father. Are we doing all we can to make our offerings pure and acceptable? Are we putting aside distractions and focusing on the relationship we are building with God?
- Honor: Christ admonished the Pharisees for seeking places of honor and wanting to be greeted in the marketplace. The honor they sought was false, attributable to their “class” as leaders of the synagogue, not to any virtuous actions on their part. We see in the lives of many saints, however, that their quiet, humble, sacrificial actions–so full of purity and love of God–are much more worthy of honor than the behaviors of ostentatious leaders. St. Therese of Lisieux, for example, lived behind the walls of her convent and died at age twenty-four, but is renowned worldwide for her sanctity. May we always remember that God rewards humility, not those seeking honor. For you to be deserving of honor, it must find you.
- Jesus Knew: The scholars of the law must have thought themselves immune from Jesus’s criticism, or they wouldn’t have joined the conversation. How surprised they must have been to hear Jesus expose their guilt. Jesus knows all of our flaws too. In fact, Jesus knows us much better than we know ourselves—and he loves us dearly. Let’s not fall into the scholars’ trap by presuming we’re “not guilty” of this or that sin. Instead, may we humbly invite the Lord to show us our sins, and accept them, so that we can prepare to make a good confession. “As patience leads to peace, and study to science, so are humiliations the path that leads to humility”(St. Bernard of Clairvaux).
Conversing with Christ: Lord, in all of the criticism you leveled against the Pharisees and scholars, it was their pride you objected to. Woe to me when I am proud. I am proud when I take for granted my easy access to the sacraments. It is pride that causes me to seek affirmation from others now and then. And when my faults are unexpectedly made known to me, my pride is wounded. My prideful tendencies are “curable” only by you, Lord. Show me the path to humility and give me the grace to follow it.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will do something “honorable” without being seen or noticed.
For Further Reflection: How Can I Overcome the Root Sin of Pride?
Written by Maribeth Harper.