A reading from gospel according to Matthew 23:13-22
Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
13 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.
15 “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.
16 “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.’
17 Blind fools, which is greater, the gold, or the temple that made the gold sacred?
18 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.’
19 You blind ones, which is greater, the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
20 One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it;
21 one who swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it;
22 one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who is seated on it.”
Reflection: Blind guides, Blind fools
Good news: Jesus is the door to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Our gospel reading shows Jesus giving stern rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees – the religious leaders of the Israelites. These leaders were supposed to lead the people to God but by their pride and prejudices, they were leading people and themselves to damnation.
“Woe” means great sorrow, distress or trouble. It is a strong term used by Jesus to show His indignation at people who “locks” or “shuts” the door to the Kingdom of heaven. It is clear that Jesus abhors blind fools and blind guides who do not listen to Him and instead manipulates the people for their selfish motives or personal gains. These blind leaders make a lot of rules for others to follow but these rules are so complicated that they become burdensome most especially to people of little means. Yet these so-called religious leaders do not follow the rules themselves and they even make excuses and alibi not to perform their responsibilities. For their hypocrisy, they deserve the condemnation of the Lord.
Jesus came down from heaven to open the way for us to enter the Kingdom of heaven. In John 14:6, He proclaimed that He is the way, the truth, and the life. Thus, we can only enter the Kingdom through Him. It is therefore necessary for us to listen to Him and to follow Him.
As followers of Jesus, His mission becomes our very own mission. It is therefore our duty and responsibility to lead people to the Kingdom, not away from the Kingdom of heaven. Woe to us if we become the modern Scribes and Pharisees or the blind guides of our day. And so we pray that by our words and actions, may we light the path for others to enter the Kingdom.