Reading: Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. Luke 11:42.
Good morning, happy Wednesday, and many blessings my dear family.
This Gospel (Luke 11:42-46) opens with attention-getting words. Jesus scathingly says to the Pharisees: “Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and rue, but you pay no attention to judgment and love for God!” What strong words! And to make it worse, Jesus says this to the Pharisees in a public forum.
Jesus then accuses the Pharisees of enjoying “seats of honor in the synagogues and deferential greetings in the marketplace.” He likens the Pharisees to unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk. Finally, one of the scholars spoke up and said: “Teacher, you are insulting us.” However, this does not stop Jesus. He continues: “Woe to you scholars of the law. You impose heavy burdens on the people that are difficult and painful. Yet you do not lift a finger to touch them!”
Jesus was a teacher of the truth, who recognized the guidelines that existed, but he was not confined by them. He wanted to get to what was behind them, what they served.
Self-importance and drawing attention to oneself was alien to his way, which was one of self-giving. Lord, bring us to the deeper truth of who you are that we may honor and serve you in all we do.
Roles can take on undue importance. The size of your wage-packet, the number of positions you hold can distract from the deeper truth that Jesus taught. May we have the heart and generosity of the widow at the treasury (Luke 21) to give as Jesus did and to be a support to others in the burdens they carry. We pray to Jesus who set out to lighten burdens, not impose them (Matt 11:28-30).
The sad fact of spiritual power, being abused and diverted to give status and prestige to religious leaders. We know that the core of Jesus' message is loving compassion, but his words, directed at religious hypocrites, are angry words.
Now take a moment and put yourself in the shoes of the Pharisees. How would you react to such a public and scathing tongue lashing? Jesus does not mince any words. The reality is: we all have “a Pharisee” within us. It naturally comes with our human condition.
The challenge for us is to recognize when our internal Pharisee is activated. When we become aware that we are judging another, we then have the opportunity and choice to release our judgment. If we can do this, we not only “release” the person we were prepared to judge, but we also release ourselves. And most likely, we may find that by not judging others, we are happier, more peaceful and more content. Judgment will “poison” us if we do it frequently. The choice is ours to make. What will you (and I) choose today?