Wednesday of the 21st Week of the Year

Matt 23:27-32

Denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees


One day, in one of our mission stations in Garba Tulla, Kenya, there was a meeting among the elders of the community. They discussed about the peace situation in the entire territory. It was proposed to have a dialogued with the Somali tribes and initiate a peace treaty with them. The following day a vehicle was attacked on the road and several people died while others were wounded.

There are events in our lives when people destroy the good intentions of others. Some individuals pretend that they want to promote peace but with the wrong driving force and motivation. In the gospel of today, the Pharisees developed this nefarious attitude of hypocrisy. They want to appear alluring to other people but in reality they are deceptive and untruthful.

The Lord is admonishing us not to pattern our lives to this kind of people. As Christians 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. (Fr. Marlone Ramirez, SVD Bible Diary 2002).


….Jesus got so mad at the Pharisees and teachers of the law because of their love for recognition. They were compared to whitewashed tombs full of bones and filth. The Jewish abhorrence of dead bodies is a big contrast to the Filipino care for dead bodies. The dead body is kept where people can pray for the eternal repose of the dead and for the intentions of the bereaved family.

Jesus employed children in his efforts to educate the proud Pharisees and teachers of the law…. (Fr. Oscar Alunday, SVD Bible Diary 2004)


People say: “By the songs you sing, you reveal your age…” mine is revealed by these few lines of songs of many years ago which I could still remember: “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….”

In today’s gospel Jesus calls the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites. We know that hypocrites are people who are insincere, pretentious, whose outward and inward dispositions do not manifest congruency. Jesus knows that the scribes and Pharisees pretend to be what they are not and pretend to feel what they don’t actually feel – aptly described by the lines of the songs mentioned above. Just likens them to “whitewashed tombs which appear beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.” Jesus, the Truth personified, advocates honesty, truthfulness, sincerity, transparency, unpretentiousness. 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. It is God’s love that makes us real. (esefgeessps Bible Diary 2006)


“The measure of man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out,” Thomas Macaulay declares. A hypocrite is someone who puts up a front of goodness and righteousness when he is seen and noticed. However when nobody is watching and more so, when he is unrecognized in public, he can be rude and malicious, unkind and a violator of the law. This is how Jesus describes the scribes and Pharisees. They are like whitewashed tombs, beautiful outside but full of dead men’s bones inside. They appear good and righteous in the outside but malicious and malevolent inside. Such hypocrisy really turned the stomach of Jesus upside down.

On the other hand, St. Paul admonishes the Thessalonians to work hard as he, Silas and Timothy have been doing. He is telling this pagan-turned-Christian community to imitate their example. Is this arrogance? No. Is St. Paul conceited? No. This is what we call ‘conviction.’ Yes, he is boasting in the name of Jesus. He does not need people’s approval for what he does. He just wants to please Jesus and eventually become a living witness to the Thessalonians. This is conviction. Christian values are perceptible inside out.

Joining a package tour to Beijing, China, we went to a government-owned jade factory. We were shown the difference between a real jade and a fake one. The real jade, when lightly hit with another small solid object, produces a ‘ting’ sound. Whereas the fake jade, made of synthetic materials, produces a ‘tic’ sound.

The scribes and Pharisees will certainly produce a dead ‘tic’ sound. St. Paul and his company will surely generate a live ‘ting’ sound. In various situations, seen or not seen, recognized or unrecognized, what sound do we produce? Remember: “The measure of man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.” (Fr. Arlo Bernardo Yap, SVD Bible Diary 2008)


Magpakatotoo ka!” (Be real!) was the catchy slogan of a soft drink ad some years ago. I have to be honest that I was not that clear with the connection between drinking a soft drink and being real. But I do believe that the slogan fits very well every time and season. The call to be real has to be sounded off always as long as there are people who continue to be false and pretentious.

The Lord sounded off the same call to the Jews during His time. He was even more harsh than the soft drink slogan if we read the gospel reading for today. The strong words of Jesus are of how important the values of sincerity and honesty are for the Lord. As such we are called to examine ourselves of our pretenses, falsities and hypocrasies. Could they be in our pesonaly relationships leading us to feel such relationships as a burden rather than as a source of strength and growth? Are such dishonesties present in the work we do thus preventing us from finding joy and commitment in our tasks?

Come to think of it, “Magpakatotoo ka!” is at its very depths an urgent call to reform, conversion and a real change of heart. (Fr. Emmanuel Menguito, SVD Bible Diary 2009)


PARDON US FOR OUR HYPOCRISY: One of the Ten Commandments is to respect the Sabbath. For the Jews, within the commandment were 39 other rules on how they should respect the Sabbath. The rules ranged from not allowing the harvesting of grains and the carrying of heavy loads, to the manner of preparing food for the day.

But what made the Pharisees abominable was that they were using the commandment to impose suffering on the people. The Pharisees used the law to prove that they were holier than other people; that they were better because they fulfilled the law. This vigorous interpretation of the law was used by the Pharisees to condemn other people.

I believe there is a lot phariseeism in us because in many ways it is apparent that we enjoy seeing other people suffer. We laugh when we see, in a movie or on television scenes showing people being bumped or getting hurt. At the core of our easy laughter at the comic tragedy of other people is our self-righteousness. We smugly thank God that we are wiser and more intelligent that these careless people. This is why everybody likes gossip. We are very fond of talking about other people’s weaknesses. We do not dare to talk of our own weaknesses. We enjoy destroying each other.

But how different are our ways from the ways of the Lord. I must tell you that if your joy or peace is only to be found in relation to the conditions of other people, then it is very shallow peace. If you are content, if you are happy simply because you feel that you are better than the rest, there is something wrong with your notion of happiness. It is evident that your standards are human not Jesus’. Jesus alone should be our standard. No matter what people say, if you are at peace with God or if you are doing God’s will then you are doing what a Christian should do.

Let us pray that our self-righteousness be diminished. That our hypocrisy be diminished. That our taking pleasure in other people’s sin be diminished. That our perverse joy in seeing other people suffer be taken away from us. When somebody gets hurt, we should also get hurt. When somebody is in trouble, we should consider ourselves in trouble.

Lord, pardon us for our hypocrisy. Pardon for taking pleasure in seeing other people suffer. Pardon us for considering ourselves better than the others, because in your presence, we are nothing. Lord, give us humility, give us an awareness that we are nothing before you. (Only Jesus, Always Jesus by Soc Villegas pp. 123-124)


The Pharisees became obsessed with all sorts of legalities in their endeavour to win human approval. Jesus, on the other hand, zeroes in on the most essential areas of human life: the need for mercy, justice and love. It is in these areas, in fact, that we experience an encounter with God Himself (John Seland, SVD Reflections on the Daily Gospels p. 143).


This passage includes the last two of the seven woes Jesus speaks against the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and vanity. In all the woes Jesus calls them ‘frauds.’

Jesus is usually very gentle and forgiving with sinners. Why this sudden change with the sin of hypocrisy? He evidently saw in them very little inclination to admitting guilt, little desire for true sorrow. He realized that the only approach in their case was the use the strong invectives. Probably Jesus foresaw a need in us and in all who came after Him. He wanted to show us the rottenness of this vice.

So the Lord calls the Pharisees white-washed tombs, beautiful to look outside but full of filth and “dead men’s bones” on the inside. Tombs are whitewashed even today in Palestine, a practice that dates back to the time of Christ and earlier. In the Old Testament, contact with death callused uncleanness. The whitewashing helped to identify the tombs and keep away anyone who might accidentally touch them and become unclean.

In our way of speaking, whitewashing means covering up. Regarding the Pharisees, Jesus says that their law-observance was a cover-up for a line that was not at all in line with the Law and its spirit.

How often we are inclined to cover up our failings, even our sins. We try to hide our faults so as to appear righteous to others. Yet all the time we know we are dishonest, we are afraid of being found out. We live without peace.

How much better to admit our mistakes, to ask forgiveness for our offenses and be healed? We need healing and forgiveness from each other and from Christ. But only by honest openness can we expect to receive it (Revs. Bernard and Fritz Mischke, OSC Pray Today’s Gospel p. 266-267).


Wednesday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time (Year B) – Mateo 23:27-32. Unsa may atong buhaton sa mga tawo nga magsaway sa atong kakulangon? Sa libro nga “Why Am I Afraid To Tell You Who I Am?” si John Powell mipasabot nga ang hinungdan sa atong pagpakaaron-ingnon mao ang “fear of rejection”. Tungod kay mahadlok kita nga ang mga tawo dili na moangay kanato kon mahibaw-an nila ang tinuod natong pagkatawo, magbutang kita og maskara sa atong kaugalingon. Sa ebanghelyo gisaway ni Jesus ang maskara sa mga Pariseo dili aron insultohon kondili aron hagiton sila sa pagbag-o sa kaugalingon. Busa, bisan sakit ang pagdawat sa kamatuoran nga gisaway sa ubang tawo, ato silang pasalamatan tungod kay sila gigamit usab sa Ginoo aron paghagit kanato sa pagbag-o. (Fr. Abet Uy)


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

WEDNESDAY OF THE 21ST WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR B) – MATEO 23:27-32. NGANONG MAGTAKOBAN MAN KITA SA ATONG KAUGALINGON? Sa libro nga “Why Am I Afraid To Tell You Who I Am?” si John Powell miingon nga ang hinungdan sa pagpakaaron-ingnon mao ang “fear of rejection”. Magbutang kitag maskara sa kaugalingon tungod kay mahadlok kita nga dili na moangay kanato ang mga higala kon mahibaw-an nila ang tinuod tang pagkatawo. Apan ang pagpakaaron-ingnon dili makaayo nato. Si Rick Warren nag-ingon: “The most exhausting activity is pretending to be what you know you aren’t.” Gisaway ni Hesus ang pagtakoban sa mga Pariseo dili aron insultohon kondili aron hagiton sila sa pagbag-o sa kaugalingon. Sa pagtakoban, malansisan nato ang tawo, apan dili ang Ginoo kay makita niya ang atong kasingkasing. Busa, ang pagbag-o sa kaugalingon, dili ang pagtakoban, maoy angay tang buhaton. Posted by Abet Uy


NO FAKES ALLOWED! “On the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” – Matthew 23:28

Have you ever seen those food commercials with the tall glass of delicious iced tea, or the smoking, juicy chicken, or a delectable slab of roast ham? Did you know that just as actors are given makeup, so are food in commercials? They’re made to look good so people will buy them. But it isn’t really what you’ll get at the restaurant.

That’s a lot like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. He says they are attractive in appearance but inside, they are full of “hypocrisy and wickedness.” Just like food in commercials, the Pharisees were fake!

But what does it mean to be authentic?

Jesus plays favorites with those who are authentic. The first person to see Him resurrected was a former prostitute, the first person to enter heaven with Him was a former thief. And the first pope? A former liar! Yes, Jesus plays favorites but only with sinners who have been transformed. That is what made them authentic — that they have been changed from the inside out.

Whether we are new to the faith or old stragglers, we all have our challenges with sin. May we never be overtaken by it but remain authentic in Jesus. Rod Velez (

Reflection: What is your greatest habitual sin? Why is it so difficult to give up? What is Jesus doing to change you? What about you, what  are you doing to change yourself?


1ST READING: Orthodoxy, which literally means “right glory,” is essential to a good preacher and teacher. If he or she is not orthodox then there is the danger of leading his audience astray, and woe unto a teacher who leads the little ones of Jesus astray. As we seek to be formed by the Gospel, let us always be guided by the Scriptures, the Traditions of the Church, and Her Magisterium. Let us pray that we will always teach what the Church teaches. 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10, 16-18

GOSPEL: Today is the feast of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo. She is a tremendous example to us in the way of perseverance in the intercessory ministry. She refused to give up on the salvation of her son, no matter how far he had strayed into the world of the academe and philosophy. She ought to be the patron of intercessors. Let us ask her to pray for us that we will become better intercessors. Matthew 23:27-32 (or Luke 7:11-17)

think:  Let us pray that we will always teach what the Church teaches.


THE INCORRUPTIBLES – “You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.” – Matthew 23:27

What do Sts. John Mary Vianney, Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, Francis Xavier, Rose of Lima, Bernadette of Lourdes and Therese of the Child Jesus have in common other than living lives of simplicity, honesty, unselfishness and total dedication to Jesus? Well, they are just some of the incorruptible saints whose remains phenomenally defy decay and smell sweet without embalming.

They look peacefully asleep even if they’ve been dead for decades, even centuries. The lifestyles of these saints, when they were alive, exemplified deep devotion to Jesus, intense piety and kindness.

The purity of their lives has manifested in their physical bodies. For them, no whitewashed tombs are necessary. Although enshrined in glass cases, they bring inspiration to devotees, grant miraculous healing to those who venerate, and teach us to live lives of significance.

  1. S. Lewis said, “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” Truly, we are spiritual beings in a physical body.Leo Villarico (

Reflection: “The soul hungers for God, and nothing but God can satiate it. Therefore He came to dwell on earth and assumed a Body in order that this Body might become the Food of our souls.” (St. John Mary Vianney)

May I seek only You, Jesus, so others will see You in me and I will see You in them.


I DON’T WANT TO BE A WHITEWASHED TOMB: I do not want to be called a “whitewashed tomb.” “What is that?” I hear you ask. It means a hypocrite. Think of the contrast of the inside of a tomb (rotting and decaying flesh and bones) and the exterior look of a pure white and fresh coat of paint. You have the image now?

The white exterior corresponds to how a life of virtue looks. The inside of the tomb, on the other hand, appears exactly the opposite. It is within our own power, and our own power alone, to determine which we are to be — the exterior or the interior of the tomb.

This truth is at the heart of a virtuous life. The individual alone makes decisions on the degree to which he pursues a life of virtue. Yes, the grace of God makes it possible to do so, but without the person’s decision (albeit aided by grace), God’s grace cannot bring about holiness in his life. This argument was perfectly outlined in the scholastic doctrine of “grace building upon nature” — that is, if there is nothing for the grace of God to work with, no decision on the part of the individual, then no amount of grace will be able to achieve anything.

The life of virtue has a human and individual element to it. This is why it is important to familiarize ourselves with the many different examples of how men and women open up their lives to the grace of God. This is also why I consider the most important formative phase of my life was when I was about eight years old. My dad would reflect with me daily about the life of the saint for the day. Ultimately, I think I owe my vocation to this practice, which I have continued to this day. Fr. Steve Tynan, MGL

REFLECTION QUESTION: If you were to choose a color for your interior life, what would it be?

Jesus, send Your Holy Spirit to guide me in choosing the right literature to read so that I will be inspired to live a holy and virtuous life.


August 26, 2015

Wednesday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time

1Thes 2:9-13, Mt 23:27-32

Christian Leadership

Today’s two Scriptural readings will enable us to compare and contrast the practice of leadership among the Jewish as well as the Christian communities of that time. Jesus points his finger at the fetid practice of leadership by the scribes and the Pharisees while Paul is indicating how he implemented the servant leadership proposed by Jesus among the Thessalonians. Let us have a closer look at the discrepancy between those two types of leaderships. The former was superficial and phony. They were mere employees of the Jewish religion. They have no personal conviction or commitment towards what they preached and practiced. Their job was to ensure law and order in the community. It was not love but rules that galvanized their preaching and practices. In the latter case, everything Paul did was animated by his personal conviction and total commitment to Jesus. He was sharing what he received freely and joyfully without expecting any sort of remuneration. We do not see the attitude of an employee in Paul. He was not an enforcer of laws but an embodiment of love.

Persons, who have never undergone an inner transformation during their formation, when chosen to positions of leadership, exhibit the attitude of an employee, subservient to their superiors and strictly imposing rules and regulations. Their insecurity and fear make them control others by instilling fear in them. Unless leaders are transformed by love and got over their fear, they will always take recourse to rules and regulations to control and frighten their subordinates. Christian leaders are not employees and should not behave like employers either. Christian leadership is a call to serve, with joy, enthusiasm, total commitment and selflessness. If not the following words of Jesus against the Jewish leadership can prove relevant even today, “you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out!” St Paul reminds Thessalonians, “You recall, brothers and sisters, our toil and drudgery, working night and day in order not to burden any of you.” Ecclesiastical leaders should not behave like lords, fathers or even teachers! God is our father; Jesus is our teacher, while we are all brothers and sisters (Mt 23:8-9), nothing more nothing less. It is St Paul who reminds us, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you are” (Rom 12:3). Dr Kurian Perumpallikunnel CMI



Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

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