Daily Reflection on the Gospel of Tuesday, August 29, 2023

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Today, Jesus assumes a clear attitude of diatribe: «Woe to you (...)! Woe to you (...)!» (Mt 23:23-25). His objectives are the scribes and the Pharisees, who represent the powerful class exerting a spiritual and moral influence over people. How can they ever lead people if they are “blind guides”? Their blindness lies in the incoherency of scrupulously observing the small details, which do have importance, while neglecting the weightier things of the Law, such as justice, love and fidelity. They are concerned over their own image, but it does not correspond to their inside, full of «plunder and self-indulgence» (Mt 23:25). Curiously enough, Jesus, uses here words referring to economic aspects.

Today's Gospel represents an invitation for those persons and most outstanding groups of the Christian communities, that is, their guides, to appraise their conscience. Do we respect the fundamental values? Do we value norms more than people? Do we impose upon others what we cannot do, ourselves? Do we speak from the complacency of our own ideas or from our humility of heart? As Dom Helder Camara said: «I would like to be a puddle of water to become the mirror of heaven». Do people consider their pastors, men of God who can tell the accessory from the fundamental? Feebleness deserves understanding, but hypocresy provokes contempt.

When listening at today's Gospel we may fall into some sort of snare. Jesus speaks to the scribes and to the Pharisees, who are hypocrites, for there were also who were not. And we may conclude that this text, today, may be intended for bishops and priests, only. As guides of the Christian communities they must certainly be careful not to tumble upon those attitudes denounced by God, but we must also remember that every believer —man or woman— may harbor in his inside a “blind Pharisee”. Jesus invites us to: «Cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean» (Mt 23:26). The path to spirituality is through the human heart.