【英汉主日分享】| DEVOUT AND RELIGIOUS BUT FAR FROM GOD (31st Sunday in Ordinary Time)
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time —Year A
Fr. Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF
Gospel: Matthew 23:1-12
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew,
Glory to you, O Lord!
Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens (hard to carry) and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation 'Rabbi.' As for you, do not be called 'Rabbi.' You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called 'Master'; you have but one master, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ.
Homily：DEVOUT AND RELIGIOUS BUT FAR FROM GOD
In today’s passage, Jesus is talking about the behavior of the Pharisees to "the crowds and his disciples." They are people at risk of behaving like the "Pharisees." Today, there is danger for Christians to become Pharisaic.
The "Pharisee" is a typical character who represents a way of thinking, judging, acting opposite to the Gospel; the arguments and beliefs of the Pharisees infiltrate subtly among the disciples and are easily assimilated.
He is a Pharisee, first of all, who occupies another’s chair. Every synagogue had a teaching chair. It was called "the chair of Moses" from which every rabbi taught. Jesus uses the image of this chair to outline the first negative characteristic of those belonging to the sect of the Pharisees: the abuse of authority.
According to Deuteronomy the successors of Moses are the prophets (Dt 18:15.18). But, eventually, their place was illegally occupied by the scribes. So prophecy gave way to the prescriptions and provisions of the rabbis. They were passed on as "word and will of God."
There are those who today reduce the relationship with the Lord to compliance with applicable laws and precepts, who preach a legalism that stifles and takes away the joy of feeling always loved and welcomed by God. They perpetuate the spirituality of the Pharisees.
The second characteristic of the Pharisee is thus highlighted: inconsistency. A Pharisee is anyone who says and does not do. He presents himself a devout person, speaks fine words on love, peace, respect of others, but cleverly avoids getting involved with these statements of principle.
The third characteristic of the Pharisees is the loading of unbearable burdens on the shoulders of the people. They reduce the faith and love of God to the practice of religion or observance of the precepts. People are perpetually made insecure for fear of breaching a minute law. Such a fearful Jewish religion is represented by empty stone jars at Cana. They are joyless: no wine (Jn 2:1-11).
Those who today try to impose on people "absurd and intolerable loads," who arbitrarily dictate rules, who are preoccupied with the minutiae of which Jesus never mentioned, who filter out the gnat and swallow the camel (Mt 23:24) behave as a Pharisee.
The fourth Pharisaical characteristic is exhibitionism, the desire to show off. This defect was deeply rooted. He called hypocrites those who practice good deeds before people to be seen, those who pray standing in the synagogues and at the street corners to be noted, those who fast with a melancholy air, so that everyone is aware that they are mortifying (Mt 6:1, 5, 16).
In today's passage other tricks with which the Pharisees attempt to gain recognition are described: the places of honor at banquets, the chief seats in the synagogues, the widened stripes and the fringes of vestments used during prayer.
Today the desire to attract the attention of the people, the claim to having cameras trained on oneself has not disappeared in the pretext of publicizing good deeds. Jesus suggests an alternative life for the disciples: “whoever makes oneself great shall be humbled, and whoever humbles oneself shall be made great” (Mt 23:12).