There’s No Time Like the Present

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Wednesday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time

Matthew 23:27-32
Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’ Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out!”
Opening Prayer: My Lord, help me to listen with an open heart and root out any Pharisaical tendencies I see there. 
Encountering Christ:

  1. Woe to You: Jesus told the Pharisees that, while they appeared beautiful on the outside, they were full of filth inside. He looked directly into their souls, as he does into ours. Power, beauty, and honor can corrupt. If we’re beautiful on the outside, praise him. If we’re in leadership positions, like the Pharisees were, depend on him. If we’re being honored, it’s because Jesus allowed it. Only by relying solely on Jesus, and not on our own gifts and strengths, will we avoid condemnation like the Pharisees. May Jesus never say to us, “Woe to you.”
  2. The Moment Is Now: Jesus pointed out how absurd it was for those who wanted to kill him to claim that they wouldn’t have killed the prophets. “Thus you bear witness against yourselves,” he remarked. Such hypocrisy must be absent from my life. If I want to be a hero, a Christian leader, a saint tomorrow, this desire is authentic in as much as I act accordingly today. If I want to live a lifetime with Jesus, my desire shows in how dedicated I am to him today. If I want to become the best version of myself, now is a good time to start.
  3. Good Deeds/Wrong Reasons: Jesus acknowledged in his condemnation of the Pharisees that they had done good deeds. They built and adorned tombs for the prophets. Yet, they did these things to appear righteous. Do I look for approval, affirmation, and admiration from other people, especially those who are closest to me? Am I tempted to talk about myself and my accomplishments? Have I compromised my principles in order to fit in and be accepted? Our Lord knows our weaknesses and extends his loving arms in forgiveness. The Pharisees rejected Jesus’s invitations. Let’s repent of our vanities and fall into his embrace.

Conversing with Christ: My Lord Jesus Christ, often I yearn for clarity. My heart longs for a safe harbor, a home. I beg you, put into my heart the confidence that you will guide me. I hope in you, for you are my eternal home, my safe harbor, my guarantee for future happiness. Teach me to live from this trust today, so that I can embrace fully one day what I hope for now.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will put into action a good intention, something which I have been wanting to do for a long time but haven’t done yet.
For Further Reflection: Catechism of the Catholic Church 2014-2016: Spiritual progress tends toward ever more intimate union with Christ. This union is called “mystical” because it participates in the mystery of Christ through the sacraments–”the holy mysteries”–and, in him, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. God calls us all to this intimate union with him, even if the special graces or extraordinary signs of this mystical life are granted only to some for the sake of manifesting the gratuitous gift given to all. The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle. Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes: “He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows” (St. Gregory of Nyssa, Hom. in Cant. 8: PG 44, 941C). The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus. Keeping the same rule of life, believers share the “blessed hope” of those whom the divine mercy gathers into the “holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”
Written by Father Gabriel von Wendt, LC.

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