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AUGUST 25. Ord Time B. Wk 21. Wed. Mt.23. 27-32

Jesus said: ‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who are like whitewashed tombs that look handsome on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of corruption. In the same way you appear to people from the outside like good honest men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.


‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who build the sepulchres of the prophets and decorate the tombs of holy men, saying, “We would never have joined in shedding the blood of the prophets, had we lived in our fathers’ day.” So! Your own evidence tells against you! You are the sons of those who murdered the prophets! Very well then, finish off the work that your fathers began.’


The whole of Chapter 23 of Matthew’s Gospel is given to Jesus criticising the conduct of the scribes and Pharisees, calling them hypocrites on a number of occasions, due to the difference between what they professed, and what they did.


In the verses immediately before today’s Gospel; - and which is excluded from the Gospel text; - Jesus says: “How terrible for you teachers of the Law and Pharisees. You Hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and plate, while the inside is full of what you have gained by violence and selfishness. Blind Pharisee! Clean what is inside the cup first, and then the outside will be clean to.”


This assessment of their way of life; - by the Son of God; - would have insulted the Pharisees because it was such an accurate assessment of their conduct and way of life. They professed to be the leaders of the community with responsibility for implementing the Law of Moses; - while at the same time they were plotting the death of Jesus.


Is it any wonder he referred to them as hypocrites?


And Jesus went even further in his criticism, directly addressing their claim, ‘We would never have joined in shedding the blood of the prophets, had we lived in our fathers’ day,’ as he was aware that at this very time they were plotting his own death.


Christ pointed this out when he said; - “Your own evidence tells against you! You are the sons of those who murdered the prophets! Very well then, finish off the work that your fathers began’; - alluding to how the previous generation had murdered the prophets; - and here they were planning to do so again.


And while this assessment of human behaviour was made many centuries ago it remains just as relevant today, in that as Christians, and followers of Christ, we need to ensure our way of life is in accord with what we profess and believe.


It is just as easy today to have hearts full of sin; - while at the same time leading a life that appears blameless and praiseworthy; - and probably more so given the way today’s society and culture have rejected the teachings of Christ and his Church?


We have to remember; - Christ’s harsh criticism of the scribes and Pharisee’s will be applied equally today if we lead lives that are not in accord with the teachings of the Gospel and the Church. It is not enough to appear a good Christian; - we have to live what we believe.


Gospel Acclamation 1Jn2:5


Alleluia, alleluia!

Whoever keeps the word of Christ

grows perfect in the love of God.

Alleluia!

First reading 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13 ·

We slaved night and day so as not to be a burden on any one of you


Let me remind you, brothers, how hard we used to work, slaving night and day so as not to be a burden on any one of you while we were proclaiming God’s Good News to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, that our treatment of you, since you became believers, has been impeccably right and fair. You can remember how we treated every one of you as a father treats his children, teaching you what was right, encouraging you and appealing to you to live a life worthy of God, who is calling you to share the glory of his kingdom. Another reason why we constantly thank God for you is that as soon as you heard the message that we brought you as God’s message, you accepted it for what it really is, God’s message and not some human thinking; and it is still a living power among you who believe it.


"This is God's message; - not some form of human thinking; - and it is a living power among those who have faith!!"







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