Monday, August 27, 2018

"The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant."

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” - Mother Teresa: 1910 – 1997: Founded the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata

Gospel Text: (MT 23:13-22)

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men.
You do not enter yourselves,
nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You traverse sea and land to make one convert,
and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna
twice as much as yourselves.

"Woe to you, blind guides, who say,
'If one swears by the temple, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.'
Blind fools, which is greater, the gold,
or the temple that made the gold sacred?
And you say, 'If one swears by the altar, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.'
You blind ones, which is greater, the gift,
or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it;
one who swears by the temple swears by it
and by him who dwells in it;
one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God
and by him who is seated on it."

Today’s gospel starts the sort of anti-beatitudes. Instead of showing who will be blessed based on action and attitude, here we see who will receive woes instead of blessing. The scribes and Pharisees are called hypocrites. They try to appear holy, but they are the opposite. They are keeping themselves from heaven by their own actions, but even worse, they are taking others down with them.  They know their actions are wrong, but it’s not enough to keep themselves out of heaven, by pretending to be holy and to have authority they are keeping out others who want to enter the kingdom of heaven. They are converting others to their misguidance, taking away those who could be faithful, keeping them from salvation and making them even worse than the hypocrites are. The hypocrites are instructing their converts to focus on the wrong things. They tell them that the gold is more important than the altar. Their logic is backwards – how can the gift be more important than the thing that makes it sacred? 

The point is God, not the stuff. God is what is sacred, God is what is important.

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