“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors.
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 http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Jesus speaks very harsh words to the scribes and Pharisees in today’s gospel. My first reaction is to put quite a bit of distance between myself and them. I even go so far as to thank God that I am not like them. But upon further thought, maybe I am missing the opportunity to grow and come closer to God. Maybe I am not being totally honest with myself.
In the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius has us pray for a profound sense of, and sorrow for our own sinfulness. When I do this, the words of Jesus come home to me. While I don’t intend to make a public confession, I do realize where I have allowed evil and sin to become part of what I say and do and think. I realize that I have often been less than a good steward of the wonderful gifts God has given me. I realize that while outwardly appearing righteous, there is hypocrisy and evildoing inside.
Thank goodness the First Week does not end there. We also contemplate God, the source of all life and love. We contemplate all of God’s creation which gives us life and strength. We contemplate all the people God puts in our lives, who love us so much. We are filled with wonder at all the ways God shows His forgiving love to us. Responding to His love and grace, we want to rid ourselves of the evil and sin in our lives. We give thanks for God’s unconditional love and grace.
—David McNulty is the Provincial Assistant for
Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.
—St. Augustine of Hippo