Foolish Hearts

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Tuesday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 11:37-41

After Jesus had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.”

Opening Prayer: Lord, you know the contents of my busy mind as I settle down to pray. I want to drink in the Scriptures and learn something new about you. Please bless my time and inspire me to leave distractions aside and focus on you.

Encountering Christ:

  1. Something Greater: Jesus had been preaching that “something greater” (Luke 11:32) was in their midst when this Pharisee invited him to dinner. Did he want to be seen with this popular rabbi? Had he been curious about Jesus and wanted to hear more? Might he have been more openhearted to the message of salvation if he hadn’t been so full of prideful indignation at the fact that Jesus hadn’t washed before the meal? The dinner had just begun when he raised his objection. He hadn’t even given himself time to “be” with Jesus before he leveled his criticism. Jesus sometimes visits us in unexpected ways—through the poor, through an unexpected stranger, or through a contentious family member. May we treat every soul as a brother or sister in Christ and encounter him there.
  2. You Fools!: Jesus knew that the hearts of the Pharisees were full of “plunder and evil.” He called them fools because they valued the wrong things—status, wealth, power. We too would be “foolish” if we said, “Thank God I’m not like them.” Every one of us has a propensity to sin. The difference between us and this Pharisee is that we draw near to Christ, not out of pride or vanity (hopefully), but because we recognize our need for a savior and redeemer. We approach Jesus with a humble heart full of contrition for our sinfulness. We praise him, even when we don’t perfectly understand his ways.
  3. The Remedy: Our Lord did not condemn this Pharisee so full of plunder and evil. Rather, he assessed the state of the Pharisee’s soul and prescribed a remedy: “But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.” The “cure” is reminiscent of the story about the rich young man who heard from Jesus, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Matthew 19:16). Our Lord knows exactly what keeps us from giving our whole mind, body, and soul to him. We can trust him to provide every grace we need. He desires our sanctity more than we do. 

Conversing with Christ: Lord, this Pharisee did not understand why you hadn’t followed the rules about washing before meals. Sometimes I don’t understand your ways either, but I trust that you want my eternal salvation—you died for me. Give me the grace to put aside anything that stands in the way of my becoming a saint. I want to live with you one day in heaven.

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will give alms of my time, talent, or treasure in reparation for my sins.

For Further Reflection: “We do not have to discover in which of several people Christ is to be found; we must look for him in them all. And not in an experimental spirit, to discover whether he is in them . . . but with the absolute certainty that he is. . . . Christ does not choose to be known through outward appearances—even the appearance of virtue” (Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God: A New Edition of a Spiritual Classic).

Written by Maribeth Harper.

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