“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.”
One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
One of my favorite Ignatian ideals is magis, Latin for “more” or “greater.”
At first glance, aren’t the Pharisees and lawyers in today’s Gospel committed to doing more: tithing crops, attaining honor in the synagogue, holding others accountable?
“What does all that matter,” the impassioned Jesus argues, “without an authentic commitment to self-reflection, love, and justice?”
Jesus’ anger at this hypocrisy highlights that perceived “excellence” often becomes an idol, displacing the real depth to which magis calls us. Perhaps it is easier, less vulnerable, more instantly gratifying for us to achieve more than it is to go deeper. The “more” we seek requires us always to keep our eyes on God, the direction of our dedicated service.
In my life, how and when am I tempted to understand magis as “doing more things” instead of as “going deeper”? How can I commit more deeply to love and justice this day?
—Katie Davis (MDiv, Loyola University Chicago) is a former Jesuit Volunteer/JVC Magis currently working as a Chaplain and Religious Studies teacher at St. Ignatius College Prep. She has served on the Advisory Board for Jesuit Connections and is a member of the Chicago Women’s Team for the Ignatian Spirituality Project. Katie preaches with the project Catholic Women Preach.
God of Peace,
Our comforting Calm in the stress of hectic days,
Our relieving Balance in the heaviness of competing responsibilities,
Our abiding Light in the darkness of painful struggles,
Strengthen our Church so we can create a community of caring support and loving challenge.
Humble us so that each day, we will rely on You, on trusted others, and on our truest selves.
Grant us the freedom that comes from truly focusing on You – that is, on Love – above all else.
Help us trust that this Love will lead us to true success
As we strive for the Magis –
more depth, more truth, more generosity –
in our everyday lives.
In the name of Jesus our Brother,
Who reminds us that we are never alone.