Jesus denounces and warns the Pharisees and scribes for their false piety, lack of justice and greed. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Charity so he can perform many small daily acts of love and by pursuing the Virtue of Piety so he can be guided by God to practice personal devotions.
21st Week in Ordinary time – Tuesday – Mt 23:23-26
After condemning the Pharisees’ hypocrisy, zeal for converting others to their false practices, and their false manipulations of Scripture, Jesus continues His scathing proclamation of “Woes” upon the Pharisees to warn them of their coming condemnation if they fail to repent. “Woes” are a declaration of doom for those who break God’s covenant, curses that warn those guilty of evil of God’s coming judgment. In the fourth and fifth woes, Jesus condemns their obsession with ritualistic rules while failing to love, their failure to grow in inner holiness, and their prideful desire to be noticed as righteous.
The fourth woe focuses on the Pharisees’ confused obsession with keeping to the minute details of tithing while completely missing the essential need for “justice and mercy and faith.” The hypocritical Pharisees rigorously measured their required 1/10th tithe of their harvest of small herbs (mint, dill cumin), absurdly believing scrupulosity in measuring herbs made them holy even though they failed in the most basic commandment to love; as Jesus utters this woe, the Pharisees are scheming to murder Him. Jesus humorously mocks the Pharisees’ foolish scrupulosity of straining beverages through cloth to strain out unclean gnats while He reveals their evil thoughts and deeds are so obvious as to be like swallowing a camel, the largest unclean animal.
With the fifth woe, Jesus indicts the Pharisees’ attempts to adhere to outer acts of piety (clean the outside of the cup) while they plot in their evil hearts to steal (rapacity/greed, extortion); some Pharisees were notorious for their unethical efforts to steal the homes of widows (Lk 20:47).
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Consider with fear the Harshness of Jesus as He Condemns the sinful acts of 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; fiery in Truth (a part of Justice), Jesus uses Humor and Mockery and deliberately insulting words (blind, extortioners, greedy) seeking to reach the hard-hearted Pharisees and Warn the crowds; in an act of Charity, Jesus seeks to Correct and Instruct (Spirituals Work of Mercy), calling them to seek inner holiness.
Practice charity through small acts of love
Realize: Like the imprudent Pharisees who got lost and floundered in the details of their religious rituals and failed to offer charity to others, a Catholic man can get lost in the details of devotions, scripture study, and Catholic doctrine, but fail to love God and neighbor.
Believe: Reflect upon Charity (CCC 1822-1829).
Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Charity, help me build the Virtue of Charity so I am filled with an overwhelming love for You and every soul, I joyously praise and thank You many times a day, and I am moved by You to make many small acts of love to my neighbors each day, especially those who are suffering; O Lord, strengthen me by allowing me to receive Your Most Precious Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
Be guided by God to practice personal devotions
Realize: While Jesus condemns the hypocritical rituals of the Pharisees because they fail to love, He does not condemn acts of piety.
Believe: Reflect upon Popular Piety (CCC 1674-1676, 1679).
Pray: Jesus, Divine Priest, help me build the Virtue of Piety (a part of Justice) so it is my daily priority to give Your Father, You, and the Holy Spirit my thanks and praise, I offer my daily devotion to Your Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, and I am guided by You to other devotions You wish for me to pray.