“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.” One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translation
It’s easy to understand why some people claim to be “spiritual, but not religious.”
In the hands of Pharisees and harsh lawyers, religion favors the letter of the law over justice and love. It concerns itself with recognition rather than humble service. It keeps score versus setting people free.
Jesus rebukes the legalistic religious leaders of his time for misleading the people in God’s ways.
We must be careful, however, not to throw religion out with misguided religious leaders. We’d also do well to reflect on our own human frailty when it comes to self-importance and judgmentalism.
During his US visit, Pope Francis revealed the beauty of religion with his humility and joy. Beyond celebrating Masses and prayer services, he broke bread with the homeless, visited with school children, ministered to the incarcerated. He addressed Congress and the UN about peace and environmental justice. He embraced anyone and everyone.
Today let’s follow Saint Ignatius’s advice: “love ought to show itself in deeds more than in words.”
—Jeremy Langford is the director of communications for the Midwest Jesuits, founding editor of JesuitPrayer.org, and author of Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA.
Protect us from egos that seek personal glory over glorifying you. Give us wisdom to realize that all that really matters is honoring your will. Strengthen us this day so we sidestep the temptation of earthly applause just to appear a little more important to the detriment of doing what is truly important.
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!