How seldom we weigh our neighbors in the same balance as ourselves. ~Thomas à Kempis
(Gospel Text: LK 11:37-41)
After Jesus had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said to him, "Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you."
It is easy to tsk-tsk and feel superior to the Pharisees—and for that matter anyone who pays more attention to the letter of the law than the spirit behind it. But you don’t have to be a person in authority to be guilty of hypocrisy.
Sometimes it’s easier to only put on the mask of a “perfect Christian”, to go through the motions of being an upstanding, clean-living, and respectable citizen. Some believe that if they are externally good, then they must be good Christians internally - that somehow if you act clean on the outside, it will erase the sins on your inside. This is just like the Pharisees in the gospel today. The Pharisee thought that because he went through the ritual of cleansing, then he must be seen as good on the inside too. But Jesus called him out! He said that even though the Pharisees clean their outsides, their insides are filled with sin and bad intentions.
How often do we sincerely ask the Lord to wash us clean? "Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me" (Ps 51:4). How often do we go to Confession and celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Have we washed our robes in the blood of the Lamb? (Rv 7:14) Do we stand clean before the Lord, "holy and immaculate, without stain or wrinkle or anything of that sort"? (Eph 5:27)
The Gospels show us that the Lord was basically uninterested in what “people might say” or in what may be considered “politically correct” behavior. Today we are called to realize that it’s not okay to only act like a good Christian - we need to have a pure heart and wholesome mind that matches our external cleanliness. We need to focus less on the external person or on what a person does because these are all superficial. Instead, we need to allow Jesus into our hearts and allow Him to make us truly clean from the inside out.
Only our unwillingness can prevent us from being clean (1 Pt 1:16).