2 Thess. 1:1-5,11-12, Ps. 96:1-5, Matthew 23:13-22
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men.” (Matthew 23:13)
Today’s feast, the Queenship of Mary, is a natural follow-up of her glorious Assumption into heaven; her final reward so to say and the fulfillment of the words of Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom, there will be no end.” (Luke 1:31-33).
In His teaching about God’s kingdom, Jesus spoke about those who will be turned back at the entrance of heaven because they tried to enter by the large door, the easy door, the more popular door. Meanwhile, the narrow door remains forever open. Many Christians today are living a very false life, they are not what they portray. It is sad that despite the multiplicity of churches, evil seems to be on a rise in our society. Our real problem is hypocrisy and only very few Christians who are not hypocrites follow that narrow door.
The Scribes and Pharisees were supposedly the holiest of persons in the time of Jesus but Jesus’ heavy rebuke of them will teach us something about ourselves; we are always trying to deceive people when we cannot deceive God. In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus accused the Pharisees of:
One. “Shutting the kingdom of heaven”. Is it possible that in my preaching about heaven, I am just misleading the people? Does my life proclaim a different Gospel from what I preach?
Two. Jesus accused them of traveling far and wide to convert a single person to the faith only to make him or her a more qualified candidate for hell. As a priest or the leader of a church, am I more concerned about the number of offertories, tithes, and seeds than in the actual spiritual nourishment of souls?
Three. Jesus accused the scribes and Pharisees of not teaching the truth regarding swearing and oath-taking. Jesus called them blind guides because they were teaching things that they themselves did not even know. These Pharisees taught that if one swears by the altar, it is nothing but if one swears by the gift on the altar, he is bound by the oath. This way, they seemed to place more emphasis on the gift than the very altar itself which again revealed where their true interests lay. Jesus needed to correct them.
In conclusion, let us examine our consciences and repent. We should not be so interested in attempting to convert anyone as much as we should be interested in living in the light ourselves.
Let us pray: Almighty ever-living God, cleanse me from all forms of hypocrisy. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Our Lady, Mother, and Queen. Bible Study: 2 Thess. 1:1-5,11-12, Ps. 96:1-5, Matthew 23:13-22).
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu