Denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees
Somebody said that by the songs you sing, you reveal your age. I don’t know when this song was made popular, and I even forgot its title, but I like its lyrics which are fitted also in today’s gospel: “Pretend you’re happy when you’re blue……I am laughing on the outside, crying in the inside…and that’s the way of clown….”
Today’s gospel Jesus continues with some of the strongest words of denunciation we hear from his mouth. He has words of tenderness and forgiveness for sinners, the fallen, and the weak, because he knows the sincerity and truthfulness of their hearts. But he is unbending with the scribes and Pharisees because he knows they are living in wilful deceit. They become obsessed with all sorts of legalities in their endeavor to win human approval. They are like “whitewashed tombs which appear beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.” It is because they are insincere, pretentious and whose outward and inward dispositions do not manifest congruency. They do not manifest consistency.
Oscar Wilde said, “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” And so as somebody said, stop getting up at 6:05. Get up at 5:06. Walk a mile at dawn. Find a new way to drive to work. Switch chores with your spouse next Saturday. Buy a wok. Study wildflowers. Stay up alone all night. Read to the blind. Start counting brown-eyed blondes. Subscribe to an out-of-town paper. Canoe at midnight. Don’t write to your Congressman; take a whole scout troop to see him. Learn to speak Italian. Teach some kid the thing you do best. Listen to two hours of uninterrupted Mozart. Take up aerobic dancing. Leap out of that rut. Savor life. Remember, we pass this way only once.
While Jesus, as one priest said, advocates honesty, truthfulness, sincerity, transparency, unpretentiousness, justice, mercy, love. He encourages us to live authentic lives, accepting our lights and shadows, accepting ourselves as we actually are. This calls for humility, honesty and gratitude on our part, to acknowledge that all that we are and have come from God, hence, there really no reason for us to boast of our good qualities or achievements or so pose as somebody better than the rest, continued the said priest.
Concretely, one of the things that Jesus condemns in the Pharisees is their inconsistency which is manifested in their exclusiveness and their tendency to judge people (Matthew 9:9-13). And what the Lord is admonishing us is not to pattern our lives to this kind of people. As Christians, a priest said, we need to live our life of genuine service to others. The Lord knows what is deep down in our hearts. There’s no need for us to flamboyant with our charitable works. God never fails to reward those who are authentic in extending a helping hand to the less fortunate
We should meditate deeply on this attitude of the Lord, especially in view of our final judgment. Jesus will have the same dispositions on that day, when the deceitful “will go away to eternal punishment and the upright to eternal life” (Matt 25:46).