Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the command of our God,
you people of Gomorrah.
‘Wash, make yourselves clean.
Take your wrong-doing out of my sight.
Cease to do evil.
Learn to do good,
search for justice,
help the oppressed,
be just to the orphan,
plead for the widow.
‘Come now, let us talk this over,
says the Lord.
Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
‘If you are willing to obey,
you shall eat the good things of the earth.
But if you persist in rebellion,
the sword shall eat you instead.’
Addressing the people and his disciples Jesus said, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practise what they preach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader phylacteries and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.
‘You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one master, and you are all brothers. You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.’
“You must therefore do what they (scribes and Pharisees) tell you and listen to what they say, but do not be guided by what they do; since they do not practice what they preach.”
Sound familiar? If we are honest with ourselves, we are all hypocrites like the Pharisees at one point or another. It is so much easier to find faults in others than to recognize our own issues. We notice the rudeness of someone, yet we don’t notice it when we become rude to others. We notice the selfishness of others while we fail to notice our own greediness. We congratulate ourselves, secretly of course, that we are not like those others. You get the idea. This kind of thinking is so subtle and insidious, we are often unaware of this attitude until it has taken form in our minds. I am guilty of this.
Fellow sinners, as the Gospel today says, “we have only one Teacher, the Christ.”. Our Lord teaches us time and time again to be humble in heart, pure in spirit and simple in mind. What do these all mean? Sounds humanly impossible. By our own powers, it is impossible to attain. But with God, everything is possible. We don’t have to go from 0 to 100 or from sinner to saint overnight. We start with a little at a time, entrusting ourselves to His care and follow His example. We start with daily prayers, and you will notice your attitude changing day by day. Pray for a humble heart and pure intentions. Start with a simple act of kindness or refrain from thinking ill of another, you will notice that you will develop more compassion and empathy. Next time when you are tempted to think ill of another, take a step back to look at their actions, and then look at your own. It may surprise you that there are often similarities. Perhaps then, when we recognize the plank in our own eye and upon removing it, then can we help our brethren with the splinter in theirs.
We know that Jesus criticized the scribes and Pharisees harshly at times, out of love and not spite. They fail to listen to Him and His teachings. They eventually played a hand in killing our Lord, who died to save us. My brothers and sisters in Christ, let us not be like the Pharisees. Let us heed Christ’s warnings and teachings. Let us practice what we proclaim and, in doing so, truly become followers of Christ.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Winnie Kung)
Prayer: Dear Jesus, help us to recognize our own faults before others. Help us to be humble and pure, and not to be hypocritical.
Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us and sending Your Son to atone for our sins. Thank you for correctly us when we are wrong and always forgiving us.