Are We Hypocrites or Servants?

Hypocrisy is a bacillus which is always ready to infect our religious life.
by Father Nicolás Schwizer | Source: Schoenstatt Press Office

Are We Hypocrites or Servants?

Frequently in Scriptures, Jesus attacks the Scribes and Pharisees, teachers of the Judaic Law. He invites his own to do and to fulfill what they teach, but not to imitate them in their conduct. He criticizes harshly the spiritual leaders of his people. Concretely, Jesus accuses them of the following:

• they do not practice what they teach
• they impose heavy charges against the people, but they are exempt
• they want to appear before others
• they seek the highest positions and the greetings in public places

One could think that Jesus’ rebukes were meant only to those Pharisees. That would be a mistake! In fact, Jesus’ reprimands are directed to Christians of all times. They are directed to those who hold positions of authority in the Church and equally directed to each one of us.

When Jesus mentions the Pharisees he is not pointing to a category of persons; rather, the Lord is talking about a category of spirit, of an interior attitude anyone can have. Hypocrisy is a bacillus which is always ready to infect our religious life.

We are all Pharisees:
• when we reduce religion to a question of spiritual practices, to a sterile legality
• when we pretend to reach God leaving our neighbor to one side
• when we are concerned more about “appearing” than “being”
• when we consider ourselves better than others

This entire plague has one and only one name: Hypocrisy. Therefore, in all fairness, being a Pharisee, for us, has become synonymous with hypocrisy. Hypocrites are “two-faced.” One face is turned toward God and the other face is turned toward others. Undoubtedly, the face turned toward God is horrible and frightening.

For Christ, the law was not an idol, it was the means. He had the task of leading man forward, helping him to grow.

The choice Jesus presents to us is: Love or hypocrisy. To love means to serve. Whoever truly loves, serves others, gives of himself to his brothers and sisters.

To love is to have the attitude of Christ. Jesus’ entire life on this earth was nothing other than permanent service to others. In the end, Christ even surrenders his life for us, to save us and to free us.

To serve is to have the attitude of Mary. At the Annunciation, she proclaims herself the servant of the Lord. Often we believe we are serving God because we say a prayer or fulfill a promise. Let us look at Mary: She gives God her entire life in order to fulfill the task which God entrusted to her through the message of the angel. Instantly she changes her plans and projects. She completely forgets her own interests.

The Blessed Mother’s servant attitude shows again regarding Elizabeth. She knows her cousin is with child and she leaves immediately in spite of the long journey of almost one hundred kilometers. She does not look for excuses because of being pregnant or because of the long journey. She stays with her for three months until the birth of John the Baptist.

Our Lady’s charity reminds us that the Kingdom of God, the first are those who know how to become the servants of others. When the angel announces to her that she will be the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary then understands that this vocation requires her to become the first servant of God and of mankind on the Lord’s plan of Salvation.

Let us ask Jesus and Mary for the gift of that spirit of unselfish and generous service which they have lived in such an exemplary way. Only with that spirit will we be able to face the challenges of the world today. Only with that spirit will we be able to serve as instruments for building a new world.

Questions for Reflection
1. Which group do I belong to hypocrites or servants?
2. How can we serve others?
3. Which attitude of Mary can I adopt?

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Translation: Carlos Cantú
Edited by:

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