Monday of the 21st Week of the Year

Matt 23:13-22

Denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees


Magagalit sa iyo si Jesus!” (Jesus will get angry at you). Words such as these are often uttered by an exasperated parent to a naughty child. Understandable perhaps, considering the pressure the parent is under and the seeming unconcern of the child. No harm is meant but it Is a wrong approach just the same, as it may end up creating a wrong image of Jesus in the mind of the child.

But don’t we have an angry Jesus here in today’s gospel? Certainly we do. Indeed, he seems angry to a degree that could shock us. So are the parents right after all? The answer is still no. note that the anger of Jesus is not directed to children. It is adults he is condemning. It’s the adults who are the hypocrites, who use religion for their own profit. They are the ones who feed themselves instead of the flock entrusted to them.

Children have nothing to fear from Jesus nor should we if we seek the openness and simplicity of children. But we must remember that our holiness must be different from that of the scribes and the Pharisees if we hope to enter the Kingdom of God. (Fr. John O’Mahony, SVD Bible Diary 2002)


Human as we are, how easy it is for us to misconstrue the essence from the peripheral. This is the bottom line of Jesus’ indictment of the scribes and Pharisees. For Jesus it is not the offering of cultic worship that counts but the moral demand which is love. Indeed, in following Him, we need to focus on the essential and not the peripheral. These essentials, like love for others, are oftentimes hidden from our eyes, take for example, a nationally known young speaker who disclosed this humorous incident in his life. In his customary casual attire, he went to a province to conduct a workshop seminar to a group of teachers. Upon alighting from the bus, he chanced upon an elderly man dressed in polo barong and who presumably was also going to the seminar. The welcoming committee, thinking that the elderly man was the speaker put a garland on his neck and in chorus said: “Welcome to the seminar sir.”

External appearance can be misleading that Christians need to be in touch with their own essence. For the will of God resides in our inmost essence which is best felt through our deepest desires. For example, God’s holy will is known from our essence and not from our embellished self which is merely accidental. This demands the unfolding of our true selves which are at times fraught with many attachments. The scribes and Pharisees were so attached to the observance of the laws that they forgot the commandments of love. The externals became ends in themselves rather than means. Teresa of Avila cautions us about these external observances by saying: “From silly devotions and sour faced saints deliver us, O Lord.” In Christian living, let us get more focused on the essentials or the core so to speak, and not getting caught on the peripheral. (Fr. Eugene Orog, SVD Bible Diary 2004)


A thief entered a room and saw a notice put in front of the safe and said: “Wet paint! Please don’t touch!” under this warning an instruction was added: ‘if you need money, go to the bookstand. Open the first book on the right side and you will find one hundred pesos!” the thief looked at the notice and smiled. He believed he could get more if he opts for the safe. So he went ahead and opened the safe. Lo and behold, all the lights went on with spotlight focused on him and he was caught. While being led by the police, he was heard muttering: “I have lost all my trust in humanity!”

That is what happens to people who have hardened themselves in selfishness. They don’t only feel miserable, they also make many others feel miserable. The scribes and Pharisees were supposed to be religious leaders but had gone on their selfish ways so that they could not see any other way of doing things than their own. Their values were misconstrued that Jesus called them blind, hypocrites and fools.

In his book “City of God,” St. Augustine, whose feast we celebrate today (August 28), explained the process of entering into the inner sanctum of intimacy with God. The different circles or walls of the City of God can be accessed only through self-realization by living the virtues befitting a child of God. As one approaches closer to God, the more one also becomes closer to others, especially those who need help most. He has also gone closest to himself where the City of God is actually situated! (Fr. Carlos Lariosa, SVD Bible Diary 2006)


There was a young boy who asked his Dad: “Why do we have to wear our best and sit in front when we go to church on Sunday? His Dad replied: “Son, it is important that when we go to church, we need to be seen, so people will remember us when election comes.”

Sometimes we need to examine ourselves. What kind of a Catholic am I? What is my real intention in fulfilling my obligation as a Catholic? Am I merely an external Catholic? Do I see to it that what I say or do is consistent with what I believe in as a Catholic?

The Lord in the gospel urges us to avoid the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. We may appear to be devoted Catholics in the sense that we religiously do our obligations like going to Mass not only on Sundays but even everyday, we go to confession regularly, we donate a lot of money to the Church, we are members or even officers of religious organizations. But, if our religiosity is merely to satisfy our desires and not accompanied by an internal devotion to God, our external religiosity is useless.

Let us then be less occupied with beautifying” our external acts or appearances as Christians. Let us strive rather than to be preoccupied with enriching our inner lives as followers of Christ. In the eyes of God, what matters most is the quality of our hearts, not the quantity of our religious acts.

Every time therefore we do our religious duties or every time we do something good, let us always ask ourselves: what is our intention for doing good? Are we doing these out of love for God or out of self-interest? (Fr. Cris A Cordero, SVD Bible Diary 2007)


August 22, 2016 Monday

“And the new Miss (whatever title) is Miss…”

Most Filipinos are beauty pageant fans. A town fiesta is not complete without crowning a new queen. That is why more women are aspiring to become beauty queens someday.

Today, we celebrate the Queenship of the Blessed Mother. Yes, she has all the right to be called the “Queen.” First, Mary is a queen because of her humility and simplicity. Despite her status as the “Mother of the Savior,” she remains grounded. She is always there working silently and diligently for her son. Second is that she is grace under pressure. Remember the wedding in Cana, the finding of her son in the temple and the passion of Jesus? With her strong faith in the Father and her total surrender to His will, she overcame all the challenges in her life. She faced all these bravely. Lastly, she is the epitome of perfection every woman can aspire for: an obedient daughter to her parents, Joachim and Anne; an obedient child of the Father; a sensitive relative to those in need and ready to extend her helping hands; a loving wife to Joseph and a doting mother to Jesus. Every woman is a queen especially if she becomes an inspiration to others. Whatever status she  has in life, she can make a difference. (Fr. Jun D. Perez, SVD | Ansan City, South Korea Bible Diary 2016)


August 27, 2012

St. Monica

2 Thes 1:1-5, 11-12
Ps 96
Mt 23:13-22

Denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees

[Jesus said,] 13“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the kingdom of heaven before human beings. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter. [14]

15“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves.

16“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.’ 17Blind fools, which is greater, the gold, or the temple that made the gold sacred? 18And you say, ‘If one swears by the altar, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.’ 19You blind ones, which is greater, the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it; 21one who swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it; 22one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who is seated on it.”


Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees. The evangelist lists seven “woes” against the scribes and the Pharisees. These woes signify the rejection of their teachings and serve as Jesus’ warning to their listeners not to imitate their lifestyle. Why? It is because the piety of these religious authorities is only for publicity and showmanship. They do things just to create a positive impression but in reality they do the opposite and make things harder for the ordinary people. Their practice of religion is purely external, only for their self-aggrandizement.

Jesus speaks about their sin of parading themselves as self-righteous. They know the law but in reality they do not observe it. Their hypocrisy deserves Jesus’ woes.

Are our works and words truly pleasing to God?
Shall we earn the praises of God or the woes of Jesus?



Sunday, August 21, 2016

MONDAY OF THE 21ST WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR C) – LUKAS 1:26-38. UNSA MAN NGA MATANG SA PAGKA-RAYNA SI MARIA? Si Maria gitawag nga rayna tungod sa iyang pagka-inahan sa Anak sa Dios. Si Hesus, nga maoy hari sa tanang hari, nagpuyo og ordinaryong kinabuhi. Ang iyang pagka-hari gidayandayanan sa mga hiyas sa pagkamapaubsanon ug pagkamaalagaron. Ingon usab niini ang atong makita ni Maria. Ang iyang “pagkabulahan sa mga babayeng tanan” wala makapadako sa iyang ulo. Nasayod si Maria nga siya sulugoon lamang sa Dios, ug tungod niini, nagpabilin siyang mapaubsanon ug maalagaron. Siya ang nagmatuod sa giingon sa iyang Anak: “Si bisan kinsa kaninyo nga gustong mahimong dako, kinahanglan mag-alagad sa tanan.” Sakto ang giingon ni Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great because greatness is determined by service.” Posted by Abet Uy



2 Thes 1: 1-5. 11-12; Mt 23: 13-22

Woe to You

On 20 August 2013, while out on a morning walk, Dr. Narendra Dabholkar was shot at by two unidentified gunmen near Omkareshwar temple, Pune. After working as a doctor for 12 years, Dabholkar became a social worker in the 1980s. He became involved with movements for social justice. In 1989, he set up the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (Society for the Eradication of Superstitions) to help eradicate superstition. His State-wide movement targeted god men and superstitious practices. In recent years, he worked towards getting an anti-superstition Bill passed by the Maharashtra Assembly. A day after he was killed in Pune, the state government passed the anti superstition bill.

Daily we see the abuse of authority and power in religion, in government and  in business enterprises leading to all kinds of greed and corruption which undermines the very fabric of the society. Positions of service are degenerated into instruments of personal gain, often at the expense of the weakest and the most needy. Countries which long ago should have become rich and prosperous and provided with a high quality of life for their people are bankrupt, in every sense of the word, while a small group of elite live lives of shameless luxury.

The Church, too, can find itself over-concerned with matters of money at the expense of its pastoral mission. A diocese, a parish, a bishop or priest who is rich in a world of poverty is a major stumbling block to the  Gospel of Christ.

Jesus who is always calm and loving becomes angry at these kinds of exploitation and unjust situations. He criticizes the doctors of the Law and the Pharisees, calling them hypocrites and rebuking them. In their enslavement to the law the Pharisees also found a political gain. They could demand that others also enslave themselves to the law. But only they had the right to interpret it  much to their gains. The law therefore became a tool for political and economic oppression. Jesus wanted to liberate everyone from their enslavement to the law—from all law. He did not demand, of course, to abandon the law. It was the attitude toward the law that had to be changed. The law which had been man’s master had to be made his servant. The human person must take responsibility for his servant, the law, and he must use the law to serve the needs of mankind. This is quite different from lawlessness or licentiousness or permissiveness. The law stands and its prescriptions are still there for all to obey. But always for the good of the men and women who are to obey them Fr. James ML CMI


August 22, 2016

REFLECTION: Many earnest and fervent Christians do not distinguish between hurting and harming people. But, in fact, there is a world of difference between these two actions. For example, if someone punches you on the jaw and makes you lose two healthy teeth, that someone not only hurts you but also harms you. However, if your dentist extracts two sick teeth of yours, he might hurt you but he will certainly not harm you, on the contrary. Similarly, if a knife is plunged into your abdomen: if it is handled by an assassin, it will hurt and harm you; but if it is handled by a surgeon, it might hurt you (when you wake up from the anesthesia), but it will not harm you, on the contrary.

Telling someone a hard and well-deserved truth in a spirit of fraternal correction might hurt that someone while at the same time helping that someone.

In today’s gospel reading we hear Jesus calling the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites (3 times) and blind (3 times). Was he hurting them? Surely. Was he harming them? Not at all. On the contrary, he was giving them a shock treatment in the hope of waking them up from their dangerous self-complacency. That is what is called tough love. It hurts, but at times it can be extremely beneficial.


See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

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