The word of God today challenges us on how coherent our lives as Christians are. The word of God is a lamp for our feet, and a light for our path. (Cf. Psalm 119, 105) It is also this lamp that exposes the contradiction in us, not to humiliate us, but to save us from every form of double life, lie, and mediocrity. I suggest that we can examine our lives in the light of today’s Gospel. If Jesus’ words to the Pharisees and Scribes seem harsh, they also show us his willingness to save them from their errors.
In their role as interpreters of the Law, the Pharisees had been so strict that the Law God gave to His people through Moses had become a heavy weight, crushing the people. Moreover, their lifestyles were in contradiction with the Word of God. Jesus wanted to wake them up from the torpor in which they found themselves.
The Pharisee in Me, in Us
Sometimes it is said that we judge others according to who we are. Is there any “Pharisee in us”? In other words, do we live this contradiction, a double life that contradicts our choice to follow Christ? How do I live out Jesus’ invitation to remove the log out of my own eye so that I can see clearly to take out the speck in my brother’s and sister’s eye? (Luke 6:39-42). One of the dangers in our spiritual life today is to be quick and harsh in criticizing others when we ourselves are committing the same sins that we accuse others of. And sometimes we even turn blind eyes to our own sins.
A Life Enlightened by the Word of God
The fraternal correction that is required of us by Jesus (cf. Matthew 18:15-20) can only be accomplished if our lives are fully enlightened by the Word of God. And if we have experienced divine love and mercy. Our judgments and our assessments of others will then be imbued with mercy. An example that comes to mind here is the story of the adulterous woman in John 8:1-11. The evangelist tells us that the scholars of the law and the Pharisees brought this woman to Jesus not to save her, but so that Jesus would also confirm their condemnation of her and thus have her stoned according to the law of Moses. But Jesus surprised them: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to stone her”. We know the rest of the story. They were sent back to their consciences, and no one dared to throw stone against her. Jesus not only saved this woman’s life by showing her the merciful face of God, but also invited her to conversion: “Neither do I condemn you, go ahead and sin no more.”
Indeed “judgment is without mercy to him who has not shown mercy, but mercy prevails over judgment.” Cf. James 2:12-13.
Let Us Be Lucid and Humble
Today, Jesus is inviting the Pharisees and us to lucidity, humility, and honesty. And the truth that frees us from any form of double life. It is a loving call to a happy life with God. Jesus tells us that “we will be unhappy” if we act like the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. His reproach does not only concern those in positions of authority (moral, religious) but anyone who wants to enter into the joy of active listening to the Word of God.
Truth, Justice and Mercy Are Three Friends
One of the great challenges we have as Christians today is to know how to hold together the need for truth, justice, and mercy. Jesus shows us that being a Christian is more than a question of morality; it is having an experiential knowledge of Him and when we have this personal relationship with Him, our relationship with others is necessarily imbued positively. So, with the help of today’s Gospel, let’s re-choose life by letting Jesus free us from all forms of pharisaic attitude and duplicity. Our world will be saved today by a life that is coherent with the Gospel.