First Reading: 1Thes 2:9-13; Psalm: 139. R. v. 1; Gospel: Mt 23:27-32
A STRONG WORDED REBUKE
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like white washed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Mt 23:27)
These are very strong words from Jesus because the kind of images Jesus used to identify and berate these men is so biting and hard to take in. Imagine that we are seated in a Church and hear the preacher spew out these same words directly to us from the pulpit; I bet that not many of us would remain seated to take this in. A lot of us would walk out of the Church and probably would have written a strong worded letter to appropriate authorities for the removal of the pastor. Arguably, this is one of the passages in the scriptures where we can say that Jesus was probably too harsh with his words. Was this necessary?
It is important to understand that Jesus came clean in his opinion about these men even though the images he used may be quite disturbing. And Jesus possessed the moral authority to berate anyone in this manner for he is faultless. This however is not some show of condescending attitude but an exceptional approach sometimes needed to reprimand obstinate sinners. Sometimes a true representation of who we are is difficult to take in. And unless we are reprimanded in a very strong way, we may remain relaxed in our sinful ways. Jesus said what he said in love like most parents would when out of deep disappointment they come out so hard on their children.
God still speaks to us today, and sometimes in a similar manner. There are times we feel we have made a deep mess of ourselves that we can even begin to feel less deserving of anything good. This kind of feeling is not meant to demean us or make us slide into anger, depression or suicide. But it could be a way of God telling us how so much we need him in our lives. Sometimes when we face the reality of who we truly are, it can be very hard to take in. But we can only begin to change when we accept that dirty but true identity of us so as to find a way to grow out of it. What God hates however is when we choose to remain obstinate in sin even when we face the purest truth capable to change us.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, grant us the grace to remain docile to your call to repentance. Amen.