Scripture: Lectionary # 427. II Thess.3:6-10.16-18. Psalm 128:1-2.4-5.
Our “Woe” passages continue in the reading of Matthew’s Gospel in the
conflict chapter 23. We are again faced with the question of how can we
relate to these texts without conjuring up blaming others or having a
subtle anti-semitic thought in our mind? We are to take the texts as
speaking to us with our weaknesses and limitations and our need for God’s
graces and help. One way of doing this is to see the reversal idea of the
woes and to meditate on the blessings with which they contrast.
They are speaking to us and telling us to have within ourselves what we
demonstrate outwardly. If we are beautiful or handsome, our soul should be
the reason it is so and it too must have that beauty factor as well. We are
not to be like whitened tombstone that glow brilliantly in the sun but
inside are full of dead bones! One saintly founder told his followers that
the “essential is the interior” by which he meant that our minds and hearts
should be fixed on the face of God and we should reflect that through the
virtues we are to practice. These are value virtues that ultimately stem
from God’s revealed words to us in the Old and New Testaments. Paul’s
letter to the Thessalonians that we are listeneing to gives us this
approach and contrasts with the “woe” mentality.
We are blessed when we live out the spirit of the beatitudes which are all
blessings and not woeful living. Our exterior should reflect them in our
dealings with others and in our relationship with God. They should be
experienced each day in order to offset any of our woes.
Our interior spiritual life should make us transparent persons who are
honest with everyone and are integrated into the lives we are called to
live as servants and agents of God’s redeeming love. We can display some
of our blessings through a smile, a greeting, and a staying at table with
those with whom we live in family or in community. We need to let this
good filter out of ourselves in our interactions and in our relationships.
The text also calls us to praise those who have gone before us such as the
prophets whom we have not killed and the saints who have shown us how to
live the interior life and how to exemplify Gospel values by our behavior
and our speech. Then we are a blessing not a woe person when we follow
their example. They say with St. Paul, “Be imitators of me (us) as we are
of Christ.” Our planet suffers enough woes may we not add to them. Amen.