Lectio Divina: Matthew 23:27-32
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, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men's bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets' blood.' Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out!"
• 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 word and 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 sepulchers” 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 to be.
• Matthew 23:29-32: The eighth "Alas for you...’" against those who build the sepulchers 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”. Jesus concludes saying: The people who speak like this “confess that they are children of those who killed the prophets”, then they say “our fathers”. Jesus ends by 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
• These two other expressions of "Alas for you..." are 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 labors will yield you a living,
happy and prosperous will you be. (Ps 128:1-2)