ALAS FOR YOU PHARISEES!
Paul warns his Romans that they may not conduct themselves like the pagans, whose scandalous behaviour he has just denounced. But all are called to conversion, whether of pagan or Jewish origin. For God shows no partiality.
It is surprising that Jesus could cure all ills – the blind, the deaf, lepers, yes, and also sinners aware of their failures. But he could not cure Pharisees and scribes from their “open-eyed” blindness. Jesus does perhaps not attack them so much for their literal observance of the last detail of the law but for getting so absorbed by the details of the law that they did not see the roots of all laws, justice and love. This is also the key teaching of Paul in his letter to the Galatians: not laws but the Spirit.
Lord our God,
your Son Jesus was the fulfillment
of the Law and the Prophets.
He knew and taught and lived
that the fulfillment of the Law and the promises
lies in the service of people and of you
in justice and love.
Let these too be the guides of our lives,
that with him we seek people
and above all the living person
of you, our God for ever and ever. Amen!
1 Reading: Romans 2:1-11
You, O man, are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment. For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the very same things. We know that the judgment of God on those who do such things is true. Do you suppose, then, you who judge those who engage in such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you hold his priceless kindness, forbearance, and patience in low esteem, unaware that the kindness of God would lead you to repentance? By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works, eternal life to those who seek glory, honour, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness. Yes, affliction and distress will come upon everyone who does evil, Jew first and then Greek. But there will be glory, honour, and peace for everyone who does good, Jew first and then Greek. There is no partiality with God.
Responsorial Psalm 62:2-3, 6-7, 9
R. (13b) Lord, you give back to everyone according to his works.
Only in God is my soul at rest;
from him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I shall not be disturbed at all. R.
Only in God be at rest, my soul,
for from him comes my hope.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I shall not be disturbed. R.
Trust in him at all times, O my people!
Pour out your hearts before him;
God is our refuge! R.
Alleluia: John 10:27
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: Luke 11:42-46
The Lord said: “Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb, but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God. These you should have done, without overlooking the others. Woe to you Pharisees! You love the seat of honour in synagogues and greetings in marketplaces. Woe to you! You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk.” Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply, “Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.”
Two categories of sinful people appear in today’s readings. First, there are those who have no difficulty judging others but fail to look into themselves. This is set forth by Paul in Romans. The second are those who are masters in articulating the law but pay scant attention to its major teachings and its call to love God.
There are those who sit in judgment of the conduct of others, yet fail to see that they are guilty of the same conduct that they condemn. Do these people believe that they will escape judgment? The kindness and patience of God has been theirs and should have led to repentance. To continue on this path will only incur the wrath of God on the Day of Judgment for all, Jew or Greek, without exception. For God is not partial.
The Pharisees permit tithing on every species of garden herb. But what about love of God? The Lucan Jesus does not show displeasure with concern for the less significant items, as long as the major issues are not overlooked. To walk over graves was to incur ritual impurity. The teaching and life of the Pharisees was to lead people unwittingly into wrongdoing. They had no difficulty in imposing burdens on others but never showed the compassion to assist those who were burdened.
Religious leadership has serious responsibilities. Leaders in the community are called to five with integrity whatever they ask of others. Social outreach should be part of the mission of every parish so that the needs of the poor may be met. Where burdens are heavy and can be lightened, they should be.
A story was told about a pastor, years ago, in New York’s lower Manhattan, known for his charity, could not recall a time when someone in need was turned away from his door. When he was asked if he had any idea how many times his charity had been abused, his answer was simple. No, I don’t know. But God is not going to ask me about that!”
• For missionaries and all who proclaim the faith, that their own lifestyle may be a strong argument to follow Christ, we pray:
• For all prophets in the Church, that their personal encounter with Christ may give them the power to speak for what is right and good, we pray:
• For us, that we may care little about outward display but for the things that matter: honesty, justice and love, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
we offer you ourselves through these gifts
and ask you to send us
the Holy Spirit of you and your Son.
Let him change these offerings into Jesus
and let him guide our minds and hearts
to bear fruits of life: love, joy, peace and patience
and all that brings happiness to God’s people.
May we thus live the life
of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
Prayer after Communion
Lord our God,
your Son has spoken hard words today
not just to scribes and Pharisees of the past
but to us, your people today.
Let these words wake us up
from our self-complacency,
our peace with ourselves.
Keep us from deceiving ourselves
or wasting our time and effort
on things that do not matter;
make us absolutely sincere
with ourselves and with people
and honest to you, our God,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
We believe in Jesus Christ. We recognise him as our Lord and Saviour. This commits us, then, to practice justice and love of God and neighbor. May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!