|Woe unto You, Scribes and Pharisees by Tissot (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The readings for the last week of August have featured Psalm 139, a Psalm that I love. It is especially valuable since the Gospel has been Matthew 23 where Jesus declares “woe to you scribes and Pharisees”, and the first reading has included Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians in which he explains his motives for his ministry.
The contrasts could not be more stark, Paul is firm in his proclaiming the Good News; he is seeking to please God and not men. So he endures the rejection of many and the frailty of the communities that he is ministering to with love and with honesty. He allows the Lord to search his heart, to probe his motives so that he does not try to accomplish God’s work through deception, through flattery, or that he is not merely seeking praise and attention from other men. His love and his motivation are from God, with whom he draws his strength from an ongoing and intimate relationship.
The Pharisees use the law to bolster themselves, to solidify their power, “neglecting the weightier things of the law: Judgment, mercy and fidelity.” Jesus' words cut like a knife through the exterior delusions of sanctity to reveal that they are filled with “evildoing and hypocrisy.” They are not motivated by love of God, though they claim they are, and may even believe they are.
Finish reading at Journey to Wisdom.