Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

Ossza Meg


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

Upon hearing Jesus' harsh words against Pharisaic ritualism, a lawyer responds that he is also offending him and all his colleagues. It is the reaction of someone who does not feel at all the need to change and to understand more deeply what Jesus' preaching is asking. They are content with the observation of the letter and exterior practices without grasping the substance and spirit of the alliance that God and Israel had established. Later the apostle Paul will write to the Corinthians: "For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Cor 3:6). The Word of God, as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews writes, is like a double-edged sword that cuts to the marrow and does not leave us indifferent. It does not bless our human behaviour without altering it, and it does not enter our hearts without cutting away everything that hinders it, or worse, leads us to ruin. The Word is a saving and good force that changes our heart. Jesus unmasks the sin of the Pharisees and scribes. Even though they are respected by the people, who look at them for guidance and direction, in reality their behaviour is false and misleading. This is why Jesus' judges them so severely. People seek help and guidance from those who "appear" to be guides, but instead they neglect what is essential, that is the justice and love of God. It is true that they pay their tithes to the temple and let themselves be charmed by the honour they receive in the synagogue, but in fact they are like "graves", that is, empty people who are dead inside. With cold severity, they put heavy burdens on the shoulders of others, but they neither want nor are able to bear them. This falsehood, this deceitful and duplicitous behaviour, are severely stigmatized by Jesus. The three "woes" addressed to the Pharisees are a warning for us all when sometimes we set ourselves up as merciless judges, small masters without scruples or second thoughts, who take advantage of the good faith of those who are looking for brothers and sisters they can trust as they try to grow spiritually. Mercy is the limitless measure that the Lord asks from all of his disciples.