Jesus said, «A curse is on you, Pharisees; for the Temple you give a tenth of all, including mint and rue and the other herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. This ought to be practiced, without neglecting the other. A curse is on you, Pharisees, for you love the best seats in the synagogues and to be greeted in the marketplace. A curse is on you for you are like tombstones of the dead which can hardly be seen; people don't notice them and make themselves unclean by stepping on them». Then a teacher of the Law spoke up and said, «Master, when you speak like this, you insult us, too». And Jesus answered, «A curse is on you also, teachers of the Law. For you prepare unbearable burdens and load them on the people, while you yourselves don't move a finger to help them».
Very rarely we find Jesus expressing His disappointment openly. Today, we can rightly understand, because the hope and confidence that God has put on these religious leaders, is voluntarily ignored and abused, for their own personal interest. Jesus is inviting us to double check our own attitude towards our brothers and sisters. Are we leading them towards God, or manipulating them for our personal advance?
It is important that in all our human behaviours, a great importance to be accorded, to the foundation of our thinking and action. Is it based on divine justice and love? As Christians we have to be a visible sign of divine compassion and mercy, through our words and deeds. Are we so?
Action of the day: Be compassionate
«This ought to be practiced, without neglecting the other»
+ Fr. Joaquim FONT i Gassol
(Igualada, Barcelona, Spain)
Today, we can see how the Divine Master gives us a few lessons: amongst them, He speaks of the tithe and also of the coherence educators (parents, teachers and all Christian believers) must have. In today's Mass, the teachings of St. Luke's Gospel appear in a somewhat synthesized form, but Matthew's parallel passages (23:1…) are more comprehensive and concrete. Our Lord's entire line of thought infers that at the heart and soul of our activity there must be justice, charity, mercy and faith (cf. Lk 11:42).
The Old Testament tithing and our present collaboration with the Church, according to laws and norms, follow the same principle. Notwithstanding, to apply the principle of a mandatory law to small things —as the Masters of the Law used to do— is exaggerated and wearing: «Woe to you also, teachers of the Law! For you prepare unbearable burdens and load them on the people, while you yourselves don't move a finger to help them» (Lk 11:46).
It is true that sensible people can show true instances of unselfishness. We have recent personal experiences of people who, out of their harvest, have given to the Church —for worship and the poor— the 10% (tithe); of others, who reserve their first flower (their choicest fruits), or the best fruits of their orchard; or, of others, who come to offer the same amount they have spent on their holiday vacation; and, of others, who just bring the pick of their work for the same purpose. One can guess all of them have assimilated the influence of the Holy Spirit. Love is imaginative; from small things it manages to take out joy and merits before God.
The good shepherd goes before the flock. Good parents are models to follow: example attracts. Good educators make a point of living by the virtues they teach. This is being coherent. Not only to a point, but fully: living a life close to the tabernacle, the devotion to the Mother of God, some small services at home, spreading good Christian humor... «Great souls know how to take advantage of small things» (St Josemaria).