Tuesday of the 21st Week of the Year

Matt 23:23-26

Neglect for Weightier Things

When someone comes up to you and tells you straight to your face: “Plastic ka!” wouldn’t you be offended and angry? This expression is used to refer to someone who is perceived to be insincere or is simply faked. When you’re plastic, you’re a hypocrite. The word hypocrite, as we all know, means actor or someone who puts on a show to draw attention to themselves. The gospel shows Jesus renouncing the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees of his time. Their obvious pretensions have become obstacles on the path to true knowledge of God.

Jesus does not condemn the scribes and Pharisees for tithing but for putting importance on the wrong thing which is external details of the law like: cleaning the outside of the cup and dish and others because this is seen. Their lack of faith, critical thoughts, lack of mercy, greed and self-indulgence are not seen, so they do not give them importance. That is why Jesus calls them hypocrites because they neglect the more important matters of religion such as justice, mercy, fidelity and the love of God. They were very attentive to minute matters of little importance like paying tithes of mint and dill and cummin, but they neglect to care for the needy and the weak. They put unnecessary burdens on others while neglecting to show charity especially to the weak and the poor.

A concrete example of hypocrisy is like this one that I read about Adolf Hitler from Today in the Word (June 3, 1989). It was stated that Hitler made free use of Christian vocabulary. He talked about the blessing of the Almighty and the Christian confessions which would become the pillars of the new government. He assumed the earnestness of a man weighed down by historic responsibility. He handed out pious stories to the press, especially to the church papers. He showed his tattered Bible and declared that he drew the strength for his great work from it as scores of pious people welcomed him as a man sent from God. Indeed, Adolf Hitler was a master of outward religiosity with no inward reality.

But you know what? If we are a little bit honest and admit, we have moments of hypocrisy also. These happen when we seek to appear to be what we are not; if we are concerned with looking good and without trying to be good. But remember, what we are in the sight of other people is easy to fake but we cannot fool God.

I can still remember Christina Bugayong, a 12 years old girl and a 6th grade  of Tomas Morato Elementary School, Quezon City, Manila who found P300.000 cash and P100.000 check worth of money in T. Gener Street, on her way to her house after she finished her class in the afternoon of  January 5, 2006. She tried to call and scream aloud, reminded the motorcyclist who brought the money but he rode too fast. So Tinay could not get him anymore. In returning home, most of her neighbors suggested her and her family to keep all those money, but she said, “To young people like me, do not be blinded by the glitter of money, especially if it is not yours.” She and her parents kept the money and reported it to the police station on the next day.

For her extraordinary honesty, she was awarded by Major of Quezon City, Department of Education and some institutions such as STI. The owner awarded her a set of computer and other give incentives, scholarships and awards. She deserves it simply of her honesty.

And so what is the point of Jesus’ teaching about hypocrisy? It is the essence of God’s commandments of love, that is, love of God and love of neighbor.  God is love and everything he does flows from his love for us.  Love is sacrificial; it both embraces and lifts the burdens of others.  Do you allow the love of God to transform your mind and heart?

See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

OPTION  01,   02,   03,

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