February 7, 2012
Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time
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Now when the Pharisees with some scribes
who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they observed
that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean,
that is, unwashed, hands. [For the Pharisees and, in fact,
all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands,
keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from
the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And
there are many other things that they have traditionally observed,
the purification of cups and jugs and kettles (and beds).]
So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, "Why do your
disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead
eat a meal with unclean hands?" He responded, "Well did
Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: ´This
people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are
far from me; In vain do they worship me, teaching
as doctrines human precepts.´ You disregard God´s commandment but cling
to human tradition." He went on to say, "How well
you have set aside the commandment of God in order
to uphold your tradition! For Moses said, ´Honor your father
and your mother,´ and ´Whoever curses father or mother shall
die.´ Yet you say, ´If a person says to father
or mother, "Any support you might have had from me
is qorban"´ (meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to
do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify
the word of God in favor of your tradition that
you have handed on. And you do many such things."
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your Gospel and for all
the truth it teaches me. Thank you for warning me
of attitudes and dispositions that could become temptations for me.
I love you for your goodness and mercy, and I
entrust myself into your loving hands.
Petition: Lord, help me to serve you sincerely, in truth
and in love.
people honors me only with lip service, while their hearts
are far from me.” Jesus calls his disciples to authenticity.
Too often so-called disciples give the impression of following him,
while at the same time accepting sensual loves and lusts
in their heart. Although the Pharisees display the outward trappings
of holiness, the way they treat Jesus and others betrays
their true character. Jesus would call them “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew
15:27): clean and bright on the outside, but full of
dead men’s bones within. Self-righteousness would be their downfall. Such
dispositions may lend the proud man certain short-term security, but
it will always be illusory since it is not rooted
in the truth. Is there any way in which I
also pay tribute to God with my lips but say
something else in my heart, or behave contrariwise in my
2. “The worship they offer me is worthless.” True worship
begins with humility, when the soul recognizes that it possesses
no good in and of itself, but that all of
its goodness comes from God. The Pharisees offered no real
worship to God since, in effect, they worshipped only themselves
by relying more on their talents and goodness than on
the goodness that comes from God. It is not insignificant
that when Jesus describes a Pharisee’s prayer in the parable
of the Pharisee and the tax collector, he says “The
Pharisee prayed this prayer to himself” (Luke 18:11).
How can I make sure that my prayer
is truly devoted, meaning that I am addressing Our Lord
with the words of my heart?
3. "You make God’s word
null and void.” The Pharisees used the talents and gifts
God had given them not for God’s glory, but for
their own personal gain, whether that gain consisted of praise
and admiration or personal comfort and ease. True worship of
God, truly placing God above all else, involves using the
things God created as means to reaching him. As number
226 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “It
means making good use of created things: faith in God,
the only One, leads us to use everything that is
not God only insofar as it brings us closer to
him, and to detach ourselves from it insofar as it
turns us away from him:
Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances
me from you.
My Lord and my God, give
me everything that brings me closer to you.
Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give
my all to you.”
Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank
you for my life and all the good things you
have given me. Help me to realize that you have
created everything and that all I have is from you.
May I use all I have to serve others and
as a means to come closer to you, the source
of all good.
Resolution: I will examine my
conscience to see if I am using any of my
gifts and talents to glorify or serve only myself. If
so, I’ll strive to put these same gifts at the
service of God.