"The scribes and the Pharisees have succeeded Moses as teachers; therefore, do everything and observe everything they tell you. But do not follow their example." —Matthew 23:2-3
The religious leaders of Jesus' time were bad examples (Mt 23:3), frauds (Mt 23:13, 15, 23, 27, 29), blind guides (Mt 23:16, 24), and blind fools (Mt 23:17). They were a "viper's nest," a "brood of serpents" (Mt 23:33), "like whitewashed tombs" (Mt 23:27).
The religious leaders merited such condemnations because:
- their words were bold but their deeds few (Mt 23:4),
- they burdened people more than unburdened them (Mt 23:4),
- all their works were performed to be seen (Mt 23:5), and
- they were fond of being honored and respected (Mt 23:6-7).
In summary, Jesus condemned the religious leaders of His day because they exalted themselves (Mt 23:12).
Most of you reading this are religious by the standards of our time. Moreover, many of you are religious leaders in your own right. Unlike the Pharisees of old, take Jesus' words personally. Repent. Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of your sins. Go to Confession. "Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord: though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow" (Is 1:18). "If you are willing, and obey, you shall eat the good things of the land; but if you refuse and resist, the sword shall consume you: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken!" (Is 1:19-20)
Prayer: Father, free me from religious pride.
Promise: "Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before My eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim." —Is 1:16-17
Praise: Marcia was awakened by God to her "holier than thou" attitude and repented by humbly returning to the Lord.
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July27, 2010
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