People of God, we are called to focus our energies on others, not on ourselves.  This was the problem with the Scribes and Pharisees in today’s gospel.  They focused their energies on themselves as an expression of religion while they ignored the needs of those around them.  As a result they became spiritually arrogant hypocrites.  The word hypocrite takes its origin from the Greek words, hyper meaning beyond, and crisis meaning criticism.  The Scribes and Pharisees thought that they were so good that they were beyond criticism.  Their focus was on themselves and their exact literal following of the Jewish laws.  They did not have love in their hearts for others.  They disdained the everyday people as worthless rabble.  Their method of following God could not bear fruit because they were more concerned with themselves than with finding God in others.  It is pretty easy for us to fall into that same hole.  Sometimes we forget that conversion is a process, not a static event.  The beauty of our Catholic faith is that it is profoundly realistic.  It recognizes that we are human beings tempted to make bad as well as good choices and in continual need of having our path to the Lord refined and even restored.  We believe that the Lord established the sacrament of penance for forgiveness, because of our tendency to fall into sin.  The problem with the Pharisees is that they gradually established and practiced their own religion – a religion that came from themselves and not from God; a religion that allowed them to give themselves positions of righteousness and to disdain anyone who did not meet their standards of practice.  They forgot what true religion is.  And what is true religion?  True religion is this: looking after widows and orphans in their distress and keeping ourselves free from the temptations of the world, etc.  People of God, let’s be sure that we faithfully practice our religion, but let’s first be sure that our religion is true.  

AuthorCathy Remick