More Woes

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Tuesday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time 


Matthew 23:23-26

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant me a heart like your meek and humble heart. 


Encountering Christ:


  1. Know Thyself: Today’s Gospel continues with Jesus’ warnings to the scribes and Pharisees. He is offering them a most basic and essential exercise for deepening one’s life with God: an examination for self-knowledge. St. Teresa of Avila offered advice on its importance in her work The Interior Castle: “This knowledge of ourselves is so very important, that I wish you never to admit any relaxation therein, however highly elevated you may be, because while we live on this earth, nothing is more necessary for us than humility… for, in my opinion, we shall never be able to know ourselves, except we endeavor to know God. By considering his greatness, we discover our own baseness; by contemplating his purity, we discover our own filthiness, and beholding his humility, we shall discover how far we are from being truly humble… our imperfections better discovered by being contrasted with the divine perfections” (11–12).
  2. What Is Lacking?: These woes were warnings against empty actions, void of interior depth or reverence. Again and again he called them blind. What were they blind to? The depth of love and reverence to which they were called. They remained exacting and harsh in their demands, without any true spirit of honor for the Lord. What actions in our life are routine, lacking any heartfelt or intentional offering in a spirit of praise, honor, or adoration to the Lord? Let us ask the Lord to help us renew our spirit so that we may do everything out of love for him.
  3. Reverence: Reverence is a disposition of the heart that enables us to perceive the sacredness in others and in the world. It is a virtue we cultivate by having an awareness of the purpose of our actions and our relationship with God, others, and all created things. Reverence returns our motives from self-seeking to seeking God’s glory. It reorients our way of thinking, feeling, and acting. It is an awareness that we are completely dependent on God for our salvation. Reverence fills our actions with a sense of true, noble, and exalted purpose. 


Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, open my eyes to see the interior motives of my heart. Inflame my heart with sincere love for you and a desire to please and glorify you in all I do. 


Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will reflect on the interior intentions of my heart and ask for the gift of reverence.


For Further Reflection: Learning to Live Reverently.


Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala and Nine Days with Mary Magdalene.”

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