Twenty Second Sunday of the Year
Be doers not just listeners.
Last week's Gospel saw people walking away from Jesus because his teaching appeared intolerable and not to their liking. Jesus does not stop them.
In today's Gospel Jesus appears to strike back at those who oppose him by exposing the hypocrisy of their customs and faith practices. He does not defend his own teaching but attacks those whose culture has produced dissatisfaction with his teaching. He accuses the Pharisees of being hypocrites following the letter of the law not the spirit of the law. He attacks their legalistic mindset which makes external practice of tradition more important the God's law of love. They so concentrate on the external practice of religion that they forget the true meaning of God's law and its inner meaning. This resulted in them being legalistic, harsh and judgemental towards others especially people struggling to face the problems of life. Jesus's challenge of the Pharisees can also be a challenge for us today. We can come to Mass and take part in a routine way without giving much thought as to what we are doing. We can say our prayers out of habit not really concentrating on the meaning of what we are saying or taking part in. We can sing or listen to our Church music as though we do at a concert. We need to be sensitive to those who are not familiar with our language and our rubrics. In an international Parish such as ours we need to be aware that the English responses are not easy for some, but even more difficult is the singing of our hymns in English. This is why the use of Latin responses can unite and help those who are not comfortable with our language and culture. We also need to realise the great value of silence as the language of the heart that we can all benefit from.
So I would like to invite us in silence to reflect on the Sunday's gospel and Jesus's message.
Let's asks these simple questions.
Do we act out of routine and habit or from a genuine desire to love God from our heart?
Are we living our lives in a legalistic way or do we seek to be people who act according to the spirit of the law?
Do we follow rules without thinking of the intentions behind them?
Do we give sufficient thought to the way we worship or do we attend Mass because it is our weekly duty?
If so we can be called no better than the Pharisees that Jesus is admonishing in the Gospels. So Lord help us!