“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel! “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.
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.
In today’s gospel, Jesus reminds the Pharisees about the imbalance between their following rules and rituals and their acting with mercy, integrity, and justice. It reminds me of a quote from Pope Francis’ 2013 exhortation Evangelii Gaudium:
Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others. Under no circumstance can this invitation be obscured! […] It would mean that it is not the Gospel which is being preached, but certain doctrinal or moral points based on specific ideological options. The message will run the risk of losing its freshness and will cease to have “the fragrance of the Gospel.”
Pope Francis continues to warn us of an over-reliance on ideologies and superficial programs for happiness. The Gospel invites us out of a programmed and restricted reality and into the unpredictable place of mercy, love, and justice—virtues which soften and strengthen our hearts while widening our limited grasp of the moral world.
What gift can you ask God to give you, so that you might smell the fresh “fragrance of the Gospel” in your life?
Love consists in sharing what one has and who one is with those one loves.
Love ought to show itself in deeds more than in words.
—St. Ignatius Loyola