Ideal versus Real

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Tuesday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time

Matthew 23:23-26

Jesus said: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. But these you should have done, without neglecting the others. Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.”

Opening Prayer: My Lord, teach me how to pray. I want to recollect myself and become aware of your presence here, and of your words for me now. Amen.

Encountering Christ:

  1. Is Jesus Angry?: Few times do we hear such harsh words from Our Lord. Jesus does not like hypocrisy, not at all. While he surprised everyone around him, time and again, with his clemency regarding all types of sinners, he had little patience with the Pharisees’ hypocrisy. 
  2. Jesus Wants the Real You: In general, sin does not stop Jesus from fulfilling his mission. On the contrary, sinfulness is precisely what he has come to address, to heal, and to redeem. So there is really nothing we can do that would cause Jesus to abandon us; no sin is too grave, no crime too gruesome, to prevent the Savior of the world from coming closer. But Jesus is not simply interested in defeating sin. He wants to reestablish our integrity. He wants to make us whole and holy. When we mask our real self and hide, we undermine Jesus’s mission. Jesus looks for us in our true reality, within our actual condition. For he has come to redeem us, the real us. 
  3. We Are Good Actors: A hypocrite projects an image of himself that does not match his true being; he espouses ideals yet falls short in actions. Our Lord wants us to be vulnerable enough to shed any false mask we wear and let him touch our heart with his healing grace. Sometimes, however, we don’t realize we’re acting or hiding behind a facade. In this case, the saints urge us to pray for greater self-knowledge. Self-knowledge, coupled with knowledge of God, produces humility, a virtue without which we cannot make progress in the spiritual life. 

Conversing with Christ: My Lord, you have no problem with me having problems, but only with my failing to admit them. You have died for my sins. Before such love, I let all my masks fall and meet your gaze without filters. Look at me, oh Lord. 

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will examine my conscience in the “freedom of the children of God” (cf. Romans 8:21), thus not with fear, but in the awareness that Christ wants to meet me where I am and heal me.

For Further Reflection: Pope Francis’s mediation on “The Freedom of God’s children” (July 4, 2013).

Written by Father Gabriel von Wendt, LC.

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