Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5,8-10, Ps. 149:1-6,9, Matthew 23:13-22

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Matthew 23:13)

Sadly, despite the diversity of churches, evil seems to rise in our society. Our real problem is hypocrisy. We are always trying to deceive people when we cannot deceive God. We are like the men who brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus. We have picked up stones already, but we must listen to Jesus: “Let him who has not sinned be the first to cast a stone.” In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus accused the Pharisees of:

One. “Shutting the kingdom of heaven”. You wonder, how on earth can those leading people to heaven be the ones shutting the same door? Does my life proclaim a different Gospel from what I preach? Jesus said they neither go in themselves nor allow those who want to.

Two. Jesus accused them of travelling far and wide to convert a single person to the faith only to make them a more qualified candidate for hell. Am I simply interested in increasing the number of people coming to my church? As a priest or a church leader, am I more concerned about offertories, tithes, and seeds than the spiritual nourishment of souls?

Three. Jesus accused the scribes and Pharisees of not teaching the truth regarding swearing and oath-taking. How sound is my theology? What efforts do I make to update my knowledge? Jesus called them blind guides because they taught things they did not 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, revealing their true interests.

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 hypocrisy. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Saint Augustine, Bishop, Doctor. Bible Study: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5,8-10, Ps. 149:1-6,9, Matthew 23:13-22).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu