Reflection by Meggie K. Daly
Today’s Gospel: Matthew 23:27-32 – Memorial of St. Augustine
Jesus has some seething words for the scribes and Pharisees in today’s Gospel, “You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.” Whoa! This is no milquetoast Jesus. Jesus has no tolerance for actions that appear virtuous but are solely motivated by a desire to earn the esteem of others.
The Lord sees into the deepest recesses of our heart. When our behavior is a self-serving public relations campaign and is out of sync with our true motivations, is it because we are too concerned about what others may think of us? Could our pretense be projection because we spend too much time judging others?
We tend to view others from the outside in — imputing motives. And on what do we judge? A limited view of what we see or hear without the benefit of understanding the whole set of circumstances or the heart of the other. In contrast, God views us from the inside out and knows the entire story.
Viewing others from the inside out generates compassion. Compassion imitates God. Compassion is mercy and love that assumes the best motives for others. Compassion avoids judgment, but not in some Pollyanna way that fails to distinguish between right and wrong. Compassion has no time for judgment. Compassion refrains from comparisons in a cheap effort to feel better about oneself.
Today is the feast of St. Augustine, who understood his sinful nature well. The “gift of sin” filtered through God’s merciful hands, once confessed and repented, is a reminder of our brokenness and dependence on Him. Seeing our sin through the lens of God’s mercy is an insurance policy against the puffed-up pride of the scribes and the Pharisees.
Is there some area of my life where the motivation of my actions is primarily to earn the esteem of others?
Jesus, cleanse my heart of any pretense. Free me from the murky trap of comparing myself to others.
Copyright 2019 Meggie K. Daly
Meggie K. Daly is the author of Bead by Bead: The Scriptural Rosary. She is the mother of six adult children and five grandchildren. She is a retired research scientist. Meggie occasionally blogs at meggieKdaly.blogspot.com and is working on her second book.
Receive CatholicMom.com newsletters in your inbox, including the Daily Gospel Reflection each morning!
* indicates required