1) Opening prayer
help us to seek the values
that will bring us enduring joy in this changing world.
In our desire for what you promise
make us one in mind and heart.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 23,27-32
Jesus said: 'Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that look handsome on the outside, but inside are full of the bones of the dead and every kind of corruption. In just the same way, from the outside you look upright, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
'Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build the sepulchres of the prophets and decorate the tombs of the upright, saying, "We would never have joined in shedding the blood of the prophets, had we lived in our ancestors' day." So! Your own evidence tells against you! You are the children of those who murdered the prophets! Very well then, finish off the work that your ancestors began.
• These two last ‘Alas for you...’ which Jesus pronounced against the doctors of the law and the Pharisees of his time, take again and strengthen, the same theme of the two ‘Alas for you...’ of the Gospel of yesterday. Jesus criticizes the lack of coherence between the word and the practice, between what is interior and what is exterior.
• Matthew 23, 27-28: The seventh, ‘Alas for you...¡ against those who are like whitewashed tombs. You appear upright on the outside, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness”. The image of “whitewashed sepulchres” speaks for itself and needs no commentaries. Jesus condemns those who have the fictitious appearance of upright persons, but who interiorly are the total negation of what they want to appear outside.
• Matthew 23, 29-32: The eighth ‘Alas for you...’ against those who build the sepulchres of the prophets and decorate the tombs of the upright, but do not imitate them. The doctors and the Pharisees said: “We would never have joined in shedding the blood of the prophets, had we lived in our ancestors’ day”. And Jesus concludes saying: The persons who speak like this “confess that they are children of those who killed the prophets”, then they say “Our fathers”. And Jesus ends saying:” Very well then, finish off the work that your ancestors began!” In fact, at that moment they had already decided to kill Jesus. In this way they were finishing off the work of their ancestors.
4) Personal questions
• Still two other expressions, ‘Alas for you...’ but two reasons for being criticized severely by Jesus. Which of these is in me?
• Which image of myself do I try to present to others? Does it correspond, in fact, to what I am before God?
5) Concluding Prayer
How blessed are all who fear Yahweh,
who walk in his ways!
Your own labours will yield you a living,
happy and prosperous will you be. (Ps 128,1-2)