"Christ said, “I am the Truth”; he did not say “I am the custom."
Gospel text (Mt 23:13-22): Jesus said, «Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door to the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor do you allow others to do so. Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel by sea and land to win a single convert, yet once he is converted, you turn him twice as fit for hell as yourselves. Woe to you, blind guides! You say: ‘To swear by the Temple is not binding, but to swear by the treasure of the Temple is’. Blind fools! Which is of more worth? The gold in the Temple or the Temple which makes the gold a sacred treasure? You say: ‘To swear by the altar is not binding, but to swear by the offering on the altar is’. How blind you are! Which is of more value: the offering on the altar or the altar which makes the offering sacred? Whoever swears by the altar is swearing by the altar and by everything on it. Whoever swears by the Temple is swearing by it and by God who dwells in the Temple . Whoever swears by heaven is swearing by the throne of God and by him who is seated on it».
Today, the Lord wants to enlighten us about a concept which, being elementary per se, very few succeed in assimilating it in depth: guiding someone towards disaster is not to guide towards life but towards death. He who teaches how to die or how to kill others is not a master of life, but an “assassin”.
We could easily say that, today, the Lord is bad-tempered, He is fairly annoyed with those guides who make their fellow men lose their way and their taste of life and end up by removing their very life: «Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel by sea and land to win a single convert, yet once he is converted, you turn him twice as fit for hell as yourselves!» (Mt 23:15).
Many are those who honestly try to enter the Kingdom of heaven, and removing this illusion of theirs is certainly very serious. They hold the keys to the entrance, but for them they represent nothing but a “toy”, something quite fancy to hang on their belt, and nothing more. Pharisees go after people to “catch” them and induce them to accept their own religious conviction; not that of God, but their own; not to convert them into sons of God, but into sons of hell. Their pride does not uplift one to heaven, does not lead to life, but to perdition. What a terrible mistake!
«You blind guides! You strain out a gnat —Jesus tells them— but swallow a camel!» (Mt 23:24). Everything is upside down, mixed up; the Lord has, repeatedly, tried to open up their ears and unveil the Pharisees' eyes, but Zacharias, the prophet, says: «They did not want to listen, and turned their backs and covered their ears not to hear» (Za 7:11). Then, when the judgment comes, the judge will return a severe sentence: «I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!» (Mt 7:23). It is not enough to know best: it is necessary to know the truth and teach it with true humble faithfulness. Let us remember the quote from a true master of wisdom. St. Thomas Aquinas: «While the arrogant ones extol their own courage, they degrade the excellence of truth».