Ps 139:1-3, 4-6
You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
21ST WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Psalter: Week 1 / (Green/White)
St. Louis of France / St. Joseph Calasanz, priest
1st Reading: 1 Thes 2:1-8
You well know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not in vain. We had been ill-treated and insulted in Philippi but, trusting in our God, we dared announce to you the message of God, and face fresh opposition. Our warnings did not conceal any error or impure motive, nor did we deceive anyone. But as God had entrusted his Gospel to us as to faithful ministers, we were anxious to please God who sees the heart, rather than human beings. We never pleased you with flattery, as you know, nor did we try to earn money, as God knows. We did not try to make a name for ourselves among people, either with you or anybody else, although we were messengers of Christ and could have made our weight felt.
On the contrary, we were gentle with you, as a nursing mother who feeds and cuddles her baby. And so great is our concern that we are ready to give you, as well as the Gospel, even our very lives, for you have become very dear to us.
Gospel: Mt 23:23-26
Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You do not forget the mint, anise and cumin seeds when you demand the tenth of everything; but then, you forget what is most fundamental in the law: justice, mercy and faith! You should have done these things without neglecting the others. Blind guides! You strain out a mosquito, but swallow a camel.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You ?ll the plate and the cup, with theft and violence, and then pronounce a blessing over them. Blind Pharisee! Purify the inside ?rst, then the outside, too, will be puri?ed.
Why is legalism so tempting? In today’s gospel reading Jesus provides the answer to that question: legalism is tempting because it presents the easy way out of our moral obligations. This is made abundantly clear in the first example he gives. For it is obviously far easier to pay tithes on mint and herbs and seeds than to concern oneself about the more important areas of justice, mercy, good faith. Legal-advantage as a bonus that it gives the nice feeling of being obedient to God, since the legalist can boast of having indeed fulfilled the law down to its smallest details!
On the other hand, why is hypocrisy so tempting? It is because trying to be good is far more demanding than merely looking good. What we are in the sight of other people is easy to fake; but we cannot fool God.
How many actions may we perform in one single day that people may think well of us? And how many actions do we perform only for God, when no one is watching?
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