A reading from the gospel according to Luke 11:42-46
The Lord said:
42 “Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb, but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God. These you should have done, without overlooking the others.
43 Woe to you Pharisees! You love the seat of honor in synagogues and greetings in marketplaces.
44 Woe to you! You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk.”
45 Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply, “Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.”
46 And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.”
Reflection: What Jesus wants of us and what He does not want of us
The gospel reading above shows us how Jesus strongly rebuked the Pharisees, the people of authority who were supposed to be the bearers of truth and goodness. Yet, Jesus likens them to unseen grave, a dark and smelly place. Imagine yourself being told how unclean or filthy you are. How insulting, isn’t it? Yet, this is actually what Jesus was telling the Pharisees that their lives were not admirable or exemplary as they thought but obnoxious and rotten to the core.
Jesus enumerates what are despicable in the lifestyle of the Pharisees: hypocrisy in giving tithes, self-importance, propensity to draw attention from others, and lack of compassion for the poor. They pay tithes for sure but they were also extortionist (Matthew 23:25). They always wanted to be seen and be respected. With all their human regulations and man-made requirements, the people were driven to deeper poverty and even choked to death. Still, they don’t go out to help the needy.
What Jesus wants of us is to pay attention to justice and love. He wants us to serve the poor and not oppress them. By scolding the people of authority, Jesus fought for this marginalized sector of society. Let us do the same thing. Let us not keep quiet when there is injustice. Let us be courageous servants and bearer of the light no matter how dark and dangerous the environment is.
Lastly, when the Pharisees and lawyers were scolded, they felt insulted which escalated the hostility between them and Jesus. If they were humble enough, they should have taken the rebuke lightly and repented. Indeed, taking correction for a mistake is quite difficult but when we put down our ego, being corrected is rewarding.