Good morning, happy Wednesday, and many blessing.
In today’s Gospel (Luke 11:42-46) the conflicting relationship between Jesus and the religious authority of the time continues. Today in the church we have the same conflict. In a certain diocese a priest convoked the poor to participate actively. They accepted the request and numerous began to participate. A great conflict arose. The rich said that they had been excluded and some people began to say, “the priest is doing politics and forgets the Gospel.”
Jesus’ criticism of the religious leaders of the time can be repeated against many religious leaders of the following centuries, even up until now. Many times, in the name of God, we insist on details and we forget justice and love.
The image of “whitewashed tombs” speaks for itself and does not need any comments. Through this image, Jesus condemns a fictitious appearance of persons who are correct, but interiorly there is the complete negation of how they want to appear to be on the outside. Luke speaks about unmarked tombs: Alas for you, because you are like those unmarked tombs that people walked on without knowing it.” Anyone who walks on or touches a tomb becomes impure, even if the tomb is hidden under the ground. This image is very strong: on the outside the Pharisee seems to be just and good, but this aspect is deceitful because inside there is a hidden tomb that, without people being aware, spreads a poison that kills, communicates a mentality that leads people away from God, suggests an erroneous understanding of the Good News of the Kingdom. It is an ideology which makes God a dead idol.
I know it is a natural desire to be honored by our peers. However, Jesus forcefully reminds us that our lives should be lived in such a way as to honor God and honor others. Even our good works are to be done for the honor of God. As Jesus says at the start of the Sermon on the Mount, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven”.
How easy it can be to observe the minute requirements of the law and forget its spirit! Jesus insists that the highest obligation we all have is love, and we all know that observing the rules with a spirit of love makes a big difference. I ask for the vision and the openness to observe the whole law, letter, and spirit. We feel very angry when our lawgivers, civil or religious, impose burdens on us which they then avoid. Do I do that too, in my small world, in my family or at work? I might find myself supporting measures that place burdens that I know are unbearable. Sadly, for you, Jesus says.
Often people in authority use their position to demand conformity in detail and recognition by others of their status. This can often be at the expense of neglecting to realize that justice and proper care for others are the essential elements of service by those in authority. We are all called to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with our God.
Today I am going to invite you to answer these questions during the day: Hypocrisy maintains an appearance which deceives. In what ways am I hypocritical? How far does the hypocrisy of our Church go?