Ps 139:7-8, 9-10, 11-12ab
You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
21ST WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Psalter: Week 1 / (Green)
1st Reading: 1 Thes 2:9-13
Remember our labor and toil; when we preached the Gospel, we worked day and night so as not to be a burden to you. You are witnesses with God that we were holy, just and blameless toward all of you who now believe. We warned each of you as a father warns his children; we encouraged you and urged you to adopt a way of life worthy of God who calls you to share his own glory and kingdom.
This is why we never cease giving thanks to God for, on receiving our message, you accepted it, not as human teaching, but as the word of God. That is what it really is, and as such it is at work in you who believe.
Gospel: Mt 23:27-32
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, beautiful in appearance; but, inside, there are only dead bones and uncleanness. In the same way, you appear religious to others, but you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness within.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets, and decorate the monuments of the righteous. You say: Had we lived in the time of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the blood of the prophets. So, you, yourselves, confess to be the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. And now, ?nish off what your ancestors began!
In today’s gospel reading Jesus several times contrasts the inside (of people, of things) to the outside, each time blaming his opponents for neglecting the inside and cultivating only the outside.
Now the interesting thing in Jesus’ image here is that they provide implicitly a method for eliminating hypocrisy from our lives. The method is foolproof. It is also very simple. Unfortunately, it is demanding. What method is that? It is simply this: to look inside! Look inside the cup and dish and tomb. You will experience a terrible disillusion about your pretty self. You will discover that you are not the nice person you always thought you were. You will be awfully tempted to turn away from such a painful discovery and to stop your self-examination. But, if you persevere, you will gradually accept your dark side as it is. This will enable you to drop all your sham virtues and to stop pretending you are such a good person. Then you will feel an immense compassion for all sinners, whom you now understand from within and to whose company you now know you belong. This process of inner examination is the royal road to humility and the defeat of hypocrisy. It has been insisted on a thousand times by all the spiritual masters.
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