Saturday of the 20th Week of the Year

Matt 23:1-12

Denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees


“The greatest among you will be the one who serves the rest.” The first time I remember hearing about Matthew 23 was at a high school chapel Mass. The preacher proposed that Matthew 23 should be shouted rather than just quietly read. Indeed, humble service remains the measure of Christian greatness. Jesus instructs that good teachers are supposed to be models of learning and good behavior. The Pharisees have not always been good teachers because of their callousness, lack of compassion, disregard for justice and sheer hypocrisy. The washing of the disciples’ feet by Jesus perfectly exemplifies the kind of service that the followers are exhorted to perform to one another. Here Jesus turns the idea of authority upside down: authority means humble service; it is not about power, domination or control of others. “As I have done, so also should do.” (Fr. Louie Punzalan, SVD Bible Diary 2004)


A troubled mother came to Gandhi along with her daughter and asked him to speak to the girl and persuade her to give up the harmful habit of eating more sweet food thsn was good for her. Gandhi sat for awhile in silence and requested to bring her daughter back in three weeks time and he shall speak to her.

The mother went away and came back after three weeks. Gandhi this time took the girl and in few simple words pointed out the harmful effects of too much sweet food and urged her to abandon the habit. Thanking Gandhi for the good advice the mother said to him in a puzzled voice: “I would like to know Gandhi-ji, why you did not say these words to my daughter three weeks ago?” “Well,” replied Gandhi, “Three weeks ago I myself was addicted to eating sweet foods.”

Today’s gospel contains Christ’s powerful condemnation of the Pharisees for failing to live up to their own teachings. They did not practice what they preached. They were pious frauds, people who were good at pretending and who loved to be the center of attention. Their long prayers were merely an outward show because they neglected the much more important matters of faith, justice and mercy.

What Jesus says is important for us too because to some extent we are tainted with hypocrisy. Very few of us can truthfully say that our deeds always match our words. We can put on a show to hide our shortcomings and appear virtuous. Most of us are good at presenting one face to the public and displaying a different one to our own family and friends. Jesus is never fooled by appearances for He could see into the depths of a person’s heart. He challenges us to become good witnesses to our faith. If we are to live up to what we profess as followers of Christ, then, we must mean what we say and do what we mean. (Fr. Mike Mahinay, SVD Bible Diary 2005)


There are a million and one ways to define what a friend is….but I am most fascinated with the sabungero’s definition: “Ang totoong kaibigan ay yong di pumupusta ng palihim sa kalaban ng manok mo.

There is wisdom here, a true friend is one who does not betray you or stab you at your back, one who does not take advantage of your goodness and one whose loyalty to you is not merely superficial. This was the very same hurt that Jesus was trying to convey to his listeners in our Gospel today. The Pharisees and Scribes appear to be loyal “cockfighting buddies” of God as they manifest legalistic familiarity with the Scriptures and the Law but that’s where it ends. They themselves refuse to follow God’s precepts. In short, they refuse to go as far as betting their very lives for the kingdom. They never want to sacrifice the comforts they enjoy, thus they place their bets on the more lucrative “opponent of God” while deceptively appearing to be pro-law or pro-God.

The gospel reminds us of God’s sorrow that many people tend to find it so hard to be “friends of God” all the way. We are asked to be true friends of God.

The next time you see an image of St. Peter with a rooster, be reminded that here is a guy who has learned the sabungeros lesson after denying Jesus three times. He keeps the rooster as a reminder of his conversion and a reminder for us too. If he was able to eventually learn the sabungeros definition of a true friend, so can we. (Fr. Anthony Ynzon, SVD Bible Diary 2006)


We have many saints in the Church. But most of those whom we know are Europeans. One such example is the person the Church honors today: St. Joseph Calasanz (Spain, 1556-1648 August 25), founder of the Clerics Regular of the Religious Schools or the Piarists. However, we also have a contribution to this group of holy men and women from our own fold: St. Lorenzo Ruiz and Bl. Pedro Calungsod.

I believe that it was not the process of canonization which made them saints. Their encounter with the gospel became a force which transformed them and made them believe and live the teachings of Jesus. They were Christians whose words and actions were consistent with the faith they professed.

In our gospel today, the Lord does not approve of duplicity and hypocrisy, but encourages consistency. This is an imperative for all Christians. May we therefore learn from example of the saints, or better imitate them in our journey to holiness. (Fr. Dudz Lero, SVD Bible Diary 2007)


August 13, 2016 Saturday

Jesus loves children. It is most certainly because, children are guileless, they have a clean heart, for they know nothing about scheming or planning evil. Children trust. In the Gospel passage, children trusted their parents, when they were brought to Jesus. Happy indeed the children whose parents are models in searching for God.

Is God happy with adults? Yes and No. The first reading narrates that God gives long life to a virtuous man/woman. The virtuous person “shall surely live, says the Lord”. To those who remain sinless and do what is just and right, God loves them and is happy with them.

On the other hand, those who put God at the back seat and waste their time on “idols”, those who oppress, exact usury, rob people and practice abominations – they will surely die.

Fortunately, God has no pleasure in the death of anyone. He waits. He gives grace, so that those who are destined “to die” can have a change of heart and return to the Lord.

How fitting the response is to the reading today: “Create a clean heart in me, O God”.

Let me live. (Fr. Atliano Corcuera, SVD DSWT, Tagaytay City Bible Diary 2016)


INTELLECTUAL PRIDE (Mt 23:12): St. Bonaventure was the official biographer of St. Francis of Assisi. He was also a contemporary of St. Thomas Aquinas who was considered the most intelligent theology and philosophy profession of the Church for all times. St. Bonaventure was a professor at the University of Paris during the Middle Ages. This university was the academic center of the world at that time. St. Bonaventure is venerated by the Church as a seraphic doctor because he was able to blend intellectual wisdom with the vision that comes from God. He was bright, wise, intelligent and holy. But what did he say about himself?

He himself tells a story. The Pope had appointed him cardinal. Since there were no telephones or telegrams at that time, the Pope would send a red hat to the person being appointed to signify his elevation to the cardinalate. A messenger went to St. Bonaventure’ monastery to inform him of his appointment. But he arrived while Bonaventure was washing dishes as the Franciscan friars just had lunch. As the messenger made the announcement, Bonaventure said, “Please put the hat some place. I am not yet through with the dishes.”

That was Bonaventure – doing first things first. He had no intellectual pride. He was looked up to as a very wise professor yet he washed plates for his fellow friars.

Intellectual pride is not limited to people in the academe. It can afflict anyone of us. There are people who pretend to know every answer to every question.

Let us ask God to make us as intelligent as St. Bonaventure. But let us also ask the Lord to make us wise. Intelligence is a gift. Wisdom is a virtue. (Socrates Villegas, Jesus in my Heart, p. 86)


SATURDAY OF THE 20TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR B) – MATEO 23:1-12. Unsa may maghatag sa tawo og kredibilidad? Usahay maghunahuna kita nga kon mas daghan ang atong natun-an, mas motoo kanato ang mga tawo. Usahay usab atong isipon nga kon daghan ang atong mga pagtulon-an mas mosunod kanato ang katawhan. Aduna kini gamay nga kamatuoran. Apan ang ebanghelyo karon nagtudlo nga labaw sa tanan, ang maghatag sa tawo og kredibilidad mao ang iyang binuhatan. Ang mga magtutudlo sa Balaod ug ang mga Pariseo daghan og nahibaloan sa ilang pagtoon ug kanunay silang nagwali, apan gisaway sila ni Jesus tungod kay wala man nila puy-i ang ilang gipangwali. Ang mga tawo dali nga motoo ug mosunod kanato kon ilang makita sa atong kinabuhi ang atong gipangtudlo. Matod pa, kon ato nang gipuy-an ang mga pagtulon-an, ang mga pulong dili na kinahanglan. Posted by Abet Uy


Friday, August 21, 2015 –

SATURDAY OF THE 20TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR B) – MATEO 23:1-12. UNSA MAY MAGHATAG SA TAWO OG KREDIBILIDAD? Usahay maghunahuna kita nga kon mas daghan ang atong nahibalo-an, mas motoo kanato ang mga tawo. Usahay magtoo usab kita nga kon daghan ang atong mga pagtulon-an mas mosunod kanato ang katawhan. Aduna kini gamay nga kamatuoran. Apan ang ebanghelyo nagtudlo nga labaw sa tanan, ang maghatag sa tawo og kredibilidad mao ang iyang binuhatan. Ang mga magtutudlo sa Balaod ug ang mga Pariseo daghan og nahibalo-an sa ilang pagtoon ug kanunay silang nagwali, apan gisaway sila ni Hesus tungod kay wala man nila puy-i ang ilang gipangwali. Adunay nag-ingon: “Practice what you preach or don’t preach at all.” Ang mga tawo, ilabina ang mga kabataan ug kabatan-onan, mas mosunod sa atong gibuhat kaysa atong gisulti. Posted by Abet Uy


Reflection for Saturday August 23, Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time; Matthew 23:1-12 Reflection: Should we aspire for greatness in our service for Jesus and our fellowmen? No, because the moment we aspire for greatness we are not anymore serving Jesus and our fellowmen. We are rather feeding our own egos and personal agendas, whatever our personal agendas are.

Many of us including church people as well as politicians fail in this aspect of true servanthood. For the reason that instead of giving true service we accompany it with our own selfish motives. Why are we offering our free service to the church? Is it purely to serve, or we may have hidden motives in serving the church. Same with politicians during campaign they would always offer themselves as servants, but after they’ve won we could hardly see them anymore.

Jesus is teaching us that if we truly want to serve we must be ready to forget ourselves or forget who we are. We walk our talk without complaining whatsoever. We silently do what we have to do not minding if we would be rewarded for what we do for this is what servanthood is all about.

Let us not worry if we are not cited for whatever noble undertaking that we do. God is not sleeping He sees everything and knows everything. – Marino J. Dasmarinas


TRUE GREATNESS – “The greatest among you will be your servant.” – Matthew 23:11

Josen was not just a great boss but a mentor and friend as well. When I joined his unit as an analyst, he was most patient in teaching me the basics of my job. A good writer and meticulous editor, Josen’s objective corrections helped me in improving my writing skills. He gave me every opportunity to learn by bringing me to meetings and allowing me to observe actual negotiations. After several years, Josen continued to give me room to grow, and eventually promoted me to become a specialist. Through his patient mentoring and generous sharing of his talent and time, Josen “served” me so that I would be able to serve our department and our company in the best way I could.

Jesus did the same for His Apostles. One of the best lessons He taught them was greatness in service. This He did in a most poignant way when He washed their feet during the Last Supper. “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet,” Jesus exhorted them. Today, He still teaches us the same lesson: serve one another. No matter your status in life — parent or child, rich or poor, boss or employee — true greatness comes from the humble, loving service of others. Dina Pecaña (

Reflection: “Nothing liberates our greatness like the desire to help, the desire to serve.” (Marianne Williamson)

“Brother, let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you. Pray that I might have the grace to let you be my servant, too.”


1ST READING – Falling prone is the position we should take in the celebration of the Eucharist, especially at the time of consecration. It is not practical to do this so we kneel. I remember one Eucharistic procession where, as we passed by the people, all fell to their knees in homage to the Real Presence. It would be good to rediscover this reverence and respect for the glory of God’s presence with us. Ezekiel 43:1-7



GOSPEL – Let us never make the mistake of being hypocrites. Let us be committed to live out every detail of our Christian lives so that all will know that Christians are true to their word and faithful to God’s will. It is not enough to simply know what is right; we need to do it. Jesus calls us to embrace His will in a wholehearted manner so that the witness we give to the Gospel will be strong and steadfast. There is nothing worse than watching someone who is totally uncertain about what to do next. Matthew 23:1-12

think:  Jesus calls us to embrace His will in a wholehearted manner so that the witness we give to the Gospel will be strong and steadfast.


GROW IN HUMILITY – I believe we should aim to grow in humility daily. Why so frequently? Well, for the main reason that it is a difficult task, and we are almost certain to abandon it often. It is better that we aim to grow in humility more often, daily in fact, so that at least once in a while it actually happens. This is somewhat convoluted, but I think you can see the point I am trying to make. My experience of the grace of humility is that it is a very difficult one to grasp and cling to through a period of growth.

There is something in the human psyche that seems to embrace a form of arrogance, which leads us away from humility, and would prefer to ignore the call to exercise humility at all. Why? I think that it has something to do with the nature of Original Sin. This is a sin of rebellion that refuses to acknowledge that God is our Master. It is a sin of pride or the refusal to embrace the humility required of a creature in the presence of his Creator. We are all guilty of this in one way or another and to a certain degree — either more or less, it does not matter as it is still the sin of pride at work.

How do we combat pride? We combat pride by welcoming opportunities to grow in humility. Each of us has countless opportunities to grow in humility, but more often than not, we just let them pass by or ignore them completely. This is why pride never finds it difficult to rear its ugly head, usually at the most inconvenient times. Our decision to avoid the moments when we could grow in humility means that pride has free range to develop in us. This is not a good thing for a disciple of Jesus as it will constantly stunt his opportunity for growth. Fr. Steve Tynan, MGL

REFLECTION QUESTION: How do you feel when you have allowed pride to rule your day?

Jesus, help me to open my heart to the opportunities to grow in humility daily. Holy Spirit, help me to embrace these opportunities with a newly found desire to be holy.


WHAT MATTERS – They preach but they do not practice. – Matthew 23:3

If you have read the Bible, you’ll know that you don’t need to go to Mass anymore,” my relative said. Knowing him, it would be pointless to discuss the issue, but I felt that this time, I had to say something. A sudden inspiration hit me and words just flowed out from my mouth. Surprisingly, he didn’t argue with me.

One senior agent in an insurance company said that we should never criticize what insurance plan a prospective client owned or considered buying from a competitor. Doing so appears to be an attack on the person rather than on the product she bought, thus losing not only the sale but the respect of the client as well. That was how I felt when my relative questioned our faith practices. Instead of winning us over to his side, the more he lost us.

Jesus exposed the hypocritical attitude of the religious leaders. These leaders knew the Scriptures but didn’t live by them. They were more concerned with their outward show of piety than putting the people’s interests above their own.

Our actions must match our beliefs. Let love be our guiding principle in the exercise of our faith. For God is love and that is what all of Scripture tells us about. Judith Concepcion (

Reflection: “What is the most important subject you have to learn in life? To learn how to love. And this is the challenge that life offers you.” (Pope Francis)

Lord, grant me the grace to love and be patient with those who attack my beliefs for they, too, are Your children.


LEGALISM VS. LOVE – Pharisees have gotten a bad press. If you want to hurt a person who seems to pretend to be “holier than thou,” you call him a Pharisee. If somebody acts in a very legalistic way, you call him a Pharisee. And whose fault is it that the word Pharisee is used in a negative way? The answer is in Matthew Chapter 23. I sometimes call it “most unchristian chapter in the New Testament.” The evangelist portrays Jesus as lambasting the Pharisees without mercy, so much so that many ask whether He really said what is written there. Actually, not all Pharisees were legalistic hypocrites. We know that Jesus had friends among the Pharisees. Yes, there were those whose behavior was so bad that Jesus was very frank in attacking their attitude, but we should never generalize.

A rabbi once told me that as a successor of the Pharisees, he feels hurt by the words of Jesus because most Pharisees were very pious people and loyal to God and His commandments.

To understand this chapter properly, we have to remember that Matthew’s whole approach to Scripture is to interpret it on the basis of the commandments of love. Compassion and love dictate the way Scripture should apply, not a kind of legalistic bureaucracy which assumes God is a control freak. Throughout history we can find many examples of destructiveness done in the name of Scripture or even by means of Scripture. And that is what Matthew wants his community to avoid. The Gospels show us several times how Jesus reinterpreted the Scriptures, stressing always love and compassion. We find Jesus, to the horror of certain scribes and Pharisees, violating the Sabbath law. He makes it clear that the spirit of the law is love and when that is violated, Jesus reacts quite strongly.

This is also an important lesson for us. We cannot hide behind laws and pious outward gestures and neglect the basic teaching of Jesus: the inseparable love of God and neighbor. Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD

REFLECTION QUESTION: Do you at times think that following a law while ignoring love of neighbor makes you look good in the eyes of God?

Lord, let me never forget Your love and compassion for me. Help me to love others with the same. Amen.


See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

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