Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 11, 42-46

But alas for you Pharisees, because you pay your tithe of mint and rue and all sorts of garden herbs and neglect justice and the love of God! These you should have practised, without neglecting the others.

Alas for you Pharisees, because you like to take the seats of honour in the synagogues and to be greeted respectfully in the market squares!

Alas for you, because you are like the unmarked tombs that people walk on without knowing it!'

A lawyer then spoke up. 'Master,' he said, 'when you speak like this you insult us too.'

But he said, 'Alas for you lawyers as well, because you load on people burdens that are unendurable, burdens that you yourselves do not touch with your fingertips.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

A doctor of the law listening to Jesus’ harsh words against the pharisaic empty ritualism reacts by saying that Jesus offends also him and his colleagues: "Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too." This is the reaction of those who want to defend themselves and their convictions without sensing the need to change, to understand more deeply what the Lord asks, and thus to undertake a better life than the one they are leading. Besides as Paul says, the Word of God is like a double-edged sword that cuts to the marrow and does not leave indifferent. If we listen with the pride and the sense of self-sufficiency common to people who feel the need to defend themselves, we will hear the Word as an offensive reproach and not a good and salutary force that helps us to change our hearts. Jesus unmasks the sin of the Pharisees and scribes who behave falsely, as they are regarded by the people with respect because they seek them as guides, for orientation. From here comes the severity of Jesus’ judgment. The people trust, seek, ask for help from those who "appear" to be guides, but who on the contrary neglect "justice and the love of God." They pay their dues at the temple, they let themselves be regaled with honours in the synagogues, but in reality they are like "sepulchres," that is, empty persons and dead inside. They place, with their cold harshness, heavy burdens on the backs of people but they neither want to nor know how to lift them. This falsity, this duplicitous and deceitful disposition is chastised by Jesus. His anger and his harsh judgment are an admonition for all of us when we rise up to judge without mercy, taking advantage of the good faith of those who seek older brothers and sisters in whom to trust in order to grow in the spiritual life.