“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.”
One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-transl
In today’s gospel Jesus uses very strong language to warn the Pharisees and Scholars of the Law; they are not paying attention to the really important things. And they better get their acts together.
I cannot help but think this is exactly what Pope Francis has been telling us. He has been calling us back to the most fundamental message of Jesus: know God’s love for you is absolute and unconditional, and share this love with every person in your life, especially the poor and outcast.
Francis has clearly reminded us that this needs to be our unrelenting focus. Even our thinking and doctrine about such things as sexuality and marriage cannot trump the fundamental message of love and outreach to the poor and outcast. “The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all. The proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives. Today sometimes it seems that the opposite order is prevailing.
So, I feel it necessary to ask myself, what are the things I pay great attention to, which are simply not that important? How am I going to get back to the most fundamental message that Jesus gives me?
p.s. If you have not already seen it, you will enjoy Chris Lowney’s new book Pope Francis, Why He Leads the Way He Leads.
—David McNulty is the Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits
Protect us from egos that seek personal glory over glorifying you. Give us wisdom to realize that all that really matters is honoring your will. Strengthen us this day so we sidestep the temptation of earthly applause just to appear a little more important to the detriment of doing what is truly important.
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!