Tuesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
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When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, 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…)
It disturbs me to no end when I read about the Syrian war. Both sides appear set on victory and total annihilation. But what disturbs me even more is when reporters distort the truth by making the claim there was a moment of “humanity” during a cease fire. A moment of humanity? What exactly does that mean and why is humanity defined by a tiny – brief – cease fire and not by an ongoing attempt at total destruction?
Aren’t we more geared towards destroying our enemies rather than showing mercy towards them? Aren’t we more prone to a shouting match than to a moment of silence? Don’t we prefer hard-hitting football over ballet? Come on! Isn’t this our true – and yes, fallen – nature? So of course the Lord is inviting us to evolve. You must decrease; I must increase.
Clean on the outside. Syria’s president wears very expensive clothes. His hair is well clipped. His fingernails are well manicured. He always looks sharp on TV. Now if being smart were as simple as looking smart, then I think I would be the smartest person in the world (just kidding). And if being beautiful simply meant having super white teeth and a wonderful smile, then we could all so easily make ourselves look beautiful. But we are not all beautiful. Even some of the most amazing models in the world are not always the most beautiful people in the world. I remember a girlfriend I once had. She was stunning. But when she opened her mouth it was all about her. She was everything, but beautiful. She was prideful, boastful, arrogant and obnoxious. And although I was exactly like her, I was surprised how it turned me off to her.
In today’s Gospel passage, the Lord is inviting the Pharisees and scribes to go deeper, much deeper, in their relationship with God and sinners. Dig deeper!, He insists. Cut through the superficial and get to the bottom of it all; that is, what does it mean to be holy? It cannot mean to be perfect. It must mean something else.
Blessed are the meek and humble of heart. There is nothing wrong with looking good. But there is definitely something wrong with not being good. And we know what it means to be good. Christ said, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments” (Mt 19:17).
The Lord showed compassion in our human misery. He was humble in our presence. He did not exploit the weak. He raised them up. He did not subjugate the sinner. He released him. Not once did the “well-off’ lift a finger for the downtrodden. They had their chance and blew it. The Lord, on the other hand, insisted on lifting his entire body up high on the Cross for them.
Holiness requires humility; humility requires faith; faith requires grace. And grace works from the inside out. (0)