A reading from the gospel according to Luke 11:37-41
37 After Jesus had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat.
38 The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal.
39 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.
40 You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?
41 But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.”
Good News: Give alms and everything will be clean for you.
The Pharisees washed their hands before and after eating not because they really wanted to be clean but to follow the tradition and to appear religious. Jesus did not observe the tradition not because He was against it but because He wanted to use the occasion to preach. He knew in advance what the reaction of the Pharisee and He was familiar with his thought patterns. It was a perfect moment to drive home the point of hypocrisy.
The word hypocrite originated from the Greek word hypokrites which means “an actor” or “a stage player.” It refers to someone who put on a show. Nowadays, it means someone whose actions contradict his words or stated beliefs.
The Pharisees were known for their dedication to follow the laws of Moses. This is something admirable except that their hearts were far from the real spirituality that love and compassion demand. And so Jesus tells the Pharisee that although the latter cleanses the cup and the dish, his heart was evil.
Today, we are told to wash our hands more thoroughly and regularly because of the pandemic. Some people even carry with them sanitizers and alcohol to be applied where it is necessary. These are advisable protective measures but it is more important to sanitize our heart and mind with the power of forgiveness and love. When the inside is filled with positive vibes, it will become obvious outside. We become naturally compassionate and generous. By giving alms to the needy, Jesus promises that everything will be clean for us.