Today’s Gospel completes the “Woe to you…” series of admonitions to the scribes and Pharisees that began in Monday’s Gospel. Jesus is pointing out the hypocrisy of their actions, which do not reflect the state of their hearts and souls. These admonitions can serve us as a reflection on our own conduct.
Jesus compares the scribes and Pharisees to whitewashed tombs pure and beautiful on the outside, but filthy and spiritually dead on the inside. Jesus is not speaking to the lost and forgotten, but to the educated and powerful. He looked directly into their souls, as he does into ours. Power, beauty, and honor can corrupt. If we’re beautiful on the outside, give thanks to God. However, true beauty resides in our hearts. Do our actions reflect the beauty of serving others? If we’re in leadership positions, like the Pharisees were, depend on God. Does our leadership serve others in a spirit of caring and community? Or does our leadership serve our desire for increased power and honor? Only by relying solely on Jesus and not on our own gifts and strengths will we avoid condemnation like the Pharisees. May Jesus never say to us, “Woe to you!”
Foreshadowing what was to come, Jesus points out that the scribes and Pharisees are indeed the children of those ancestors who killed the prophets. Soon they will be doing the same to Jesus. Similarly, the disciples of Jesus will also be killed by those who oppose the Gospel message. Why do we not listen to the lessons of our Catholic faith regarding the moral life? These teachings are designed to keep us pure and holy, setting us apart from the immorality of the world we live in. How often do we reject these teachings to satisfy our selfish desires to be accepted, honored, and recognized by others?
We were created by a loving God to become saints, called to live the divine life of Christ. This requires us to avoid the hypocrisy of trying to serve two masters, God, and self. Our hearts and minds must be focused on loving as Jesus loved, living as Jesus lived, and helping others do the same. Our daily actions will always reflect the purity, or the hypocrisy, of our spiritual life.
Today’s Question for Prayer and Reflection
What can you do today that will show others your desire to serve the Lord?