Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Lectionary 426. II Thessalonians 2:1-3.14-16. Psalm
96:10.11-12.13. Matthew 23:23-26:
We come to the difficult parts of chapter 23 where Jesus is confronting the
Pharisees and scribes with extremely harsh language prefaced by the “woes”.
For us who are celebrating the Eucharist there is a need to rethink the way
we hear these passages. They are meant for us not for the Pharisees and
scribes of the past. There is a tendency to let them linger on in the past
where the blame falls on the opponents of Jesus. Without a careful pastoral
interpretation we easily could be anti-semitic in our subconscious without
realizing that the texts now are meant directly for us through the living
voice of the Resurrected Jesus not the Jesus of history. The text today
forces us to realize that our own legalistic ways of handling things is far
from the way the Gospel would challenge us to be.
The moral values we can take from this reading are those mentioned by Jesus
as conforming with the way he would want us to look at our own way of
acting. Justice, mercy, and good faith are what he is talking about. We
can easily use the text for our examination of conscience before the
reception of the Eucharist or for a reflection in our night prayer to see
how we have lived out justice, mercy, and good faith to those who crossed
our paths this day. The biblical values contained within those three
practices are meant to help us clear our own interior life for any
wrongdoing or rash judging of others. We are to also avoid being
legalistic in everything we do. This rethinking and praying over the texts
that we hear this week will enable us to have a type of clearing process
whereby we root out what is against justice, mercy, and good faith in our
lives. Those words are prophetic words as well as strong attitudes
recommended by Jesus himself as our blueprint for life that is worthwhile.
The living words of Jesus in the Gospels preached and meditated upon are
what we need to experience without every placing those texts on others.
They are always meant for our own spiritual good and our growth in the
values of the Gospel.
We are to cleanse the inside of our hearts and minds and then pay attention
to the other little duties we think are part of our responsibility as a
citizen or a member of a given community. It goes without saying that this
is especially true for our families and our relationships there. The
“woes” that we hear from Jesus are to be turned around in ourselves to take
on blessings and to give out generously those blessings that we obtain
through prayers and the liturgy of the Eucharist. The Psalm for the day
helps us to pray while listening to the living voice of God and Jesus: “The
Lord will rule the world with justice and the peoples with his constancy.”