Woe to “Me”

26 August 2019. Monday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Reflection (Sem. Gerald M. Moscardon)

We do get hurt when we are told we are hypocrites. It usually hurts because there is a grain of truth in what they say and more so, when we do not have the courage to admit them. The Church has been accused so many times of being a hypocrite and in a certain way, we are. A hypocrite is one who professes something and does in contradiction to what he professes. In this certain sense, we as a Church are guilty of hypocrisy but we do not deny it and certainly do not make excuses for it. The Church is composed of the Head, Jesus Christ, and the Body, which is the Church, is composed of broken and weak people. We profess that we believe in Jesus, His words and deeds, and yet we fail sometimes to live out this faith. Yes, we are hypocrites in this sense but the difference between us and the Pharisees in the Gospel today is the disposition.

The Pharisees also profess that they are the champions of the Law, but they fail miserably in living them out faithfully because they stand at the pedestal of self-righteousness, easy to point out the sins of others but are blind and in denial of their own sins. The Church, on the other hand, are witnesses to the Truth despite our failures and weaknesses but we know that we can never be above the rest of those who sin for we are sinners ourselves and we need God to be faithful witnesses. We fully acknowledge our sins and failures, but these will never stop us to persevere in living out the Truth even if it is unpopular or unfavorable to some. If standing by the Truth will be the source of our accusation as hypocrites, then, we admit that we are hypocrites humbled daily by our sins and failures, but we have Jesus as our Head and He will never leave us dashed.

            Holiness is a journey. There is graduality to it and it can only be reached if one treads the path daily until he reaches his destination – perfection. One can only reach that in God. It is only in and with Jesus that one reaches perfection in holiness. He knows our weaknesses and He will lift us up every time we fall down along the way as long as we focus on Him and are humble enough to admit that we are weak, and we need Him.  Woe to me if I ever forget this truth.

The Gospel Today

Matthew 23: 13 – 22

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men.
You do not enter yourselves,
nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.

“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.

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

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