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OCTOBER 13. Ord Time B. Wk 28. Wed. Lk 11. 42-46

The Lord said to the Pharisees: ‘Alas for you Pharisees! You who pay your tithe of mint and rue and all sorts of garden herbs and overlook justice and the love of God! These you should have practised, without leaving the others undone. Alas for you Pharisees who like taking the seats of honour in the synagogues and being greeted obsequiously in the market squares!


Alas for you, because you are like the unmarked tombs that men walk on without knowing it!

A lawyer then spoke up. ‘Master,’ he said ‘when you speak like this you insult us too.’


‘Alas for you lawyers also,’ he replied ‘because you load on men burdens that are unendurable, burdens that you yourselves do not move a finger to lift.’


In today’s Gospel Jesus continues to condemn the actions and attitudes of the Pharisees who, in yesterday’s reading he said were fools,” who were ”filled with extortion and wickedness.”


Today, he continues his condemnation, telling them; - rather than burdening the poor with costs and looking after trifles; - such as paying “your tithe of mint and rue and all sorts of garden herbs” to the temple; - they were overlooking their more important duties, such as “justice and the love of God.


These you should have practised, without leaving the others undone!”


“Alas for you Pharisees who like taking the seats of honour in the synagogues and being greeted obsequiously in the market squares!”


Alas for you, because you are like the unmarked tombs that men walk on without knowing it!


And then a lawyer spoke up in defence of the Pharisees, saying; - “Master, when you speak like this you insult us too,” to which he replied; -


“Alas for you lawyers also,’ he replied ‘because you load on men burdens that are unendurable, burdens that you yourselves do not move a finger to lift!”


These words of condemnation are probably the angriest spoken by Christ to anybody in the entire Gospel, but in pondering them we need to understand he is the Son of God; - which means they were the truth; - and well and truly deserved!


Christ does not condemn the Pharisees for being very exact in fulfilling their legal duties, such as paying the tithes; - but rather for thinking this would atone for neglect of the greater obligations of charity and love, mercy and forgiveness.


When we assess the quality of our own spiritual lives, we need to be careful we do not act in a similar way to the Pharisees who were condemned first, for their pride and vanity and then for their hypocrisy!


They put themselves forward as examples of virtue, who liked to be greeted in the marketplace, but at the same time; - Jesus Christ, the Son of God, referred to them as fools and hypocrites!


Gospel Acclamation Jn10:27


Alleluia, alleluia!

My sheep listen to my voice, says the Lord;

I know them, and they follow me.

Alleluia!


First reading Romans 2:1-11 · Do you think you will escape God's judgement?


No matter who you are, if you pass judgement you have no excuse. In judging others you condemn yourself, since you behave no differently from those you judge. We know that God condemns that sort of behaviour impartially: and when you judge those who behave like this while you are doing exactly the same, do you think you will escape God’s judgement? Or are you abusing his abundant goodness, patience and toleration, not realising that this goodness of God is meant to lead you to repentance? Your stubborn refusal to repent is only adding to the anger God will have towards you on that day of anger when his just judgements will be made known. He will repay each one as his works deserve. For those who sought renown and honour and immortality by always doing good there will be eternal life; for the unsubmissive who refused to take truth for their guide and took depravity instead, there will be anger and fury. Pain and suffering will come to every human being who employs himself in evil – Jews first, but Greeks as well; renown, honour and peace will come to everyone who does good – Jews first, but Greeks as well. God has no favourites.


From the discourses addressed to Thalassius by Saint Maximus the Confessor


The light that enlightens every man


The lamp that is set on the lamp-stand is the true light from the Father, the light that enlightens every man coming into the world, namely our Lord Jesus Christ. By becoming one of us and assuming our human nature he became and was called the lamp. This means that he is by nature the wisdom and word of God, the Father, which is faithfully and loyally preached in God’s Church and which is raised up as a shining and resplendent light among the nations by a life of virtue led in accordance with the commandments, giving light to all who are in the house (by that I mean in this world). So the divine Word says somewhere: Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Clearly he is calling himself a lamp, for while he was God by nature he became a man according to God’s plan of salvation.

I think that in his wisdom the great David understood this when he called the Lord a lamp: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. For that is the sort of Saviour my Lord and God is, delivering men from the darkness of ignorance and sin, which is also why scripture calls him a lamp.

Like a lamp he has dispelled the gloom of ignorance and the darkness of sin, and in this way he alone has become the path to salvation for all men. By virtue and knowledge he brings to the Father all those who are resolved to follow him, who is the way of righteousness, by keeping the divine commandments. The Holy Church he calls the lamp-stand, for through its preaching the word of God shines out on it and enlightens all that live in this world, as in a house, with the brightness of truth, filling the minds of all men with the knowledge of God.

The word will not suffer being kept under a bushel: it needs to be set on that great and beautiful lamp-stand that is the Church. For if the word is restricted by the letter of the law, like a light hidden under a bushel, it deprives all men of eternal light. It offers no spiritual vision to men striving to free themselves from the senses. For they recognise that these are misleading, capable only of error and able to grasp only what is of their own nature, that is to say subject to decay. But once the word is placed on the lamp-stand, that is the Church, where God receives true worship in spirit, then it will give light to all men.

If the letter is not understood according to the spirit, then it can only be grasped with the senses, which means that what it has to say is restricted and the force of what is written is not allowed to sink into the mind.

Therefore, let us not put the lamp (that is the enlightening word of knowledge) which we have lit by spiritual contemplation and action under a bushel. Let us not be guilty of restricting the incomprehensible force of wisdom by the letter. Let us put it on the lamp-stand (by that I mean the Church), where on the heights of true contemplation it may hold out the light of divine teaching to all men.










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