The Gospel according to Luke (11:37-41)
After Jesus had spoken,
a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home.
He entered and reclined at table to eat.
The Pharisee was amazed to see
that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal.
The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees!
Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish,
inside you are filled with plunder and evil.
Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?
But as to what is within, give alms,
and behold, everything will be clean for you.”
Opening Prayer: Loving Lord, thank You for giving me this time to think of You and Your Word. Open my heart to whatever You wish to show me. Amen.
The one thing I will say about today’s Gospel is that it must have been hard to be a Pharisee around Jesus! It seems that just about every time you turn around, He was chastising the Pharisees (along with their friends, the scribes). Jesus calls them about the worst name you could give to someone supposedly with faith: Hypocrite!
I’m reminded, though that we can’t just paint all scribes and Pharisees with that same broad brushstroke. Some of them (maybe even most of them in Jesus’ day) were actually not the same hypocrites we see all over the Gospels. We might lump all of the scribes and Pharisees together, saying that they are all hypocrites. The caution is not to jump to that conclusion.
However, it’s easier said than done. Even nowadays, when, thanks to social media and smartphone technology we hear about everything going on in our world, and where anyone can say anything about anyone else, it’s easy to hear something and jump to conclusions. For example, we may see one of our homeless brothers or sisters acting in what we perceive as an irrational way and assume that person is mentally ill, and by extension, all of our homeless brothers and sisters suffer from mental illness. We may see on the news about a police-involved shooting where it seems the person who was shot was unarmed or mistaken for someone else, and we assume that all police officers are all about shooting and not protecting.
We pre-judge someone, based on some characteristic and assume that he or she will do this, or that. As followers of Christ, we shouldn’t do that. Jesus Himself was all about love, not judgment. His chastisements of the scribes and Pharisees were meant to help them see that they needed to change and that they should make that change now, and not wait.
That is the true lesson to take from today’s Gospel. God ultimately wants us to be with Him in heaven forever. But, we have to turn our hearts to be more in line with the love that God has for us. And, sometimes, we need to be slapped on the head to make us see that. The slapping is never pleasant, but it may clear the fog sometimes. May we each ask God to clear the fog and help us see that we must love without reservation and without limitation. And, if we fail to love, we ask God to help us to do better the next time. Let us see our brothers and sisters, not for what we think of them, for what they are – true brothers and sisters in Christ. And, let us seek to love them on that basis!
Closing Prayer: Jesus, I love You! Help me to extend Your love to those I meet today, and everyday! Amen.
Action for the Day: Meditate on any prejudices that you have, and ask God to help you to overcome them. It may not happen right away, but keep working at it!