“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel! “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.
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
A frequently sung psalm antiphon invites reads: “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” It echoes the spirit of Matthew’s words in today’s gospel. More important than external observance is the interior spiritual strength of mind and heart. Pope Francis frequently reminds us to take the road of mercy and forgiveness in our interactions with family, friends, and even total strangers. A merciful heart witnesses to a person’s faithfulness, grounded in God’s life and love. A forgiving attitude bespeaks another’s ability to accept me as I am, to walk with me when I am in trouble, when I doubt and even despair.
It can be convenient to put on a happy face and pretend that all is well, but this deception won’t last very long. Jesus reminds us today that it takes both courage and grace to face the demons within, and then to “clean up” the messiness in my relationships with others—especially with those I live with and love.
So where do I begin…today?
—The Jesuit prayer team
Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness; in your compassion blot out my offense.
O wash me more and more from my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin.
—Psalm 51Please share the Good Word with your friends!