Jesus denounces and warns the Pharisees and scribes for their false and foolish teaching. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Virtue of Hope so he can always pray and have confidence that Jesus will protect His priests from all error and by building the Virtue of Diligence so he can always rely on God’s grace as he strives for merit.

Liturgy

21st Week in Ordinary time – Monday – Mt 23:13-22

Commentary

Following His scathing denouncement of the Pharisees and scribes, Jesus, full of righteous and holy wrath, indicts them with seven woes for their unfaithfulness. “Woes” are a declaration of doom, curses that warn the unrepentant of God’s coming Judgment. In the Gospel of Matthew (Mt 13:13-32), Jesus declares seven woes against the Jewish leadership which stand in stark contrast to the seven blessings in The Beatitudes (Mt 5:3-12). 

The first woe indicts the Pharisees for being hypocrites who refuse to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and “lock” their followers out of Heaven. The Pharisees’ rigid and distorted  interpretation of the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) led men away from Israel’s Messiah, because they attacked Jesus, the Messiah. The second woe condemns the Pharisees for their zealous and coercive efforts to make converts who practice the Pharisees’ erroneous and sinful ways, making them, a “child[ren] of Hell”; Christ’s condemnation is devastating for it reveals the Pharisees are complicit with Satan in turning men away from God. 

The third woe condemns the Pharisees for being “blind” because they falsely interpret Scripture about the taking of oaths, using ridiculous interpretations to justify their evil desires. They flail around in the minutiae, seeking to determine which oaths are binding and which are not. In their absurd interpretations, the Pharisees are illogical and myopic, thinking little things of the material world (gold, gifts) are what matters, while missing the greater realities of the Divine (God, His Temple, His altar).   

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Be shocked by the Harshness of Jesus as He Condemns the unrighteous Pharisees: full of righteous Anger, despite the powerful Pharisees’ plots to kill Him, Jesus Courageously (a part of Fortitude) Condemns them publicly in the Temple, deliberately Embarrassing them in front of the multitude on their supposed “home turf”; fiery in Truth (a part of Justice), Jesus uses deliberately Insulting words (hypocrites, children of Hell, blind fools) seeking to reach the hard-hearted Pharisees and Warn the huge crowd to turn away from the Pharisees’ diseased practices; Jesus masterfully uses Logic (a part of Reason) to systematically expose the errors of the Pharisees.

Pray for Jesus to protect His priesthood from all error

Realize: Just as Jesus harshly condemned the Pharisees for their false teachings, so too will He harshly rebuke Catholic priests and others who fail to teach the fullness of His Truth or who promote false ideas which oppose the truth of the Catholic faith.

Believe: Review the Sacrament of Holy Orders in the Economy of Salvation (CCC 1539-1553).

Pray: Jesus, Divine Priest, help me build the Virtue of Hope so I recall and revere Your decision to bless Your Church with the priesthood, and I continually trust and pray You protect Your priests from all error, and give them the faith, obedience, prudence, and fortitude to heroically proclaim the fullness of the Your Truth found only in Your Holy Catholic Church.

Rely on God’s grace as you strive for merit

Realize: Jesus harshly rejects the Pharisees’ confused human attempts to find salvation by seeking to gain merit by their own rigorous, but false, religious practices. 

Believe: Reflect upon Merit (CCC 2006-2011, 2025-2029).

Pray: Almighty Father, help me build the Virtue of Diligence (a part of Temperance) so I recall that any merit I may have is solely through the charity of Your Son, I gratefully respond to Your blessing of grace by striving to grow in holiness, and I rely on the Holy Spirit to help me diligently pray, receive the Sacraments, and perform many Works of Mercy in my life.