August 25, 2008
Monday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time
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 human beings. 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."
Introductory Prayer: My God, I believe in you with all my heart because you have made yourself known to me in so many ways, especially through the gift of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I hope in you because you have never abandoned me. I love you, Lord, because you have loved me first and have shed your blood for my salvation. I want to love you with my whole life. Recognizing my sinfulness and trusting in your mercy, I humble myself before you. Mother Mary, I entrust my life to your maternal care so that I will always be faithful to God’s holy will for my life.
Petition: Lord, help me to fix my heart always on you, so I never fall into self-righteousness and individualism.
1. Shaking Us Up Christ is giving his hearers some pretty heavy warnings about proper conduct before God and neighbor. The warning against falling into hypocrisy isn’t only for the Pharisees; it is a stern warning to each of us, too. We must live our Christian lives in full conformity with the Gospel. We must not try to cut corners, calling people to greater holiness while we ourselves sit back and do nothing to grow. We see in this passage how this infuriates our Lord. Christ is calling each of us to love him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.
2. Pride Blinds Pride is a dangerous vice that creeps its way into our lives almost without our knowing it. It is so subtle. It keeps us from seeing God or his actions. It is so easy for us to fall and then, pridefully, to justify our actions. Christ is calling us to open our eyes to the lie of pride. He wants us to be men and women who aren’t in it for what we can get out of our faith, but for what we can give away and how we can love more. We should be falling more in love with Christ and his way of life daily. He is our guiding light, and we need to put on the eyes of faith to see clearly what he is saying to us today.
3. Reality Check Christ is correcting some of the Pharisees’ ways of teaching and reasoning, and he is putting things in their proper order. It is God that makes something holy; the thing itself is not holy of its own doing. In the same way, we don’t make ourselves holy; God sanctifies us with his grace and transforms us. He comes into our souls to make us new creatures. Christ wants us always to see that he is in control and that he alone hallows. Am I turning to him in all, or do I seek to do things on my own power?
Conversation with Christ: Christ, I want to be your faithful child and trust in you for all. Help me never to become self righteous, thinking that I can make it to heaven by my own merits or grow in holiness on my own power. All holiness is your gift, and I want to be one with you. Through prayer and the sacraments I can continuously grow in your friendship. May I never let pride blind me to your action in my soul and daily life.
Resolution: Today in my conscience examination, I will specifically see if I am doing things on my own power apart from God’s help.
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