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Liturgical day: Monday 21st in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (1Thess 1:1-5.8b-10): Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the Church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: grace to you and peace. We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father, knowing, brothers and sisters loved by God, how you were chosen. For our Gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.

You know what sort of people we were among you for your sake. In every place your faith in God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. For they themselves openly declare about us what sort of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to await his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, who delivers us from the coming wrath.
Responsorial Psalm: 149
R/. The Lord takes delight in his people.
Sing to the Lord a new song of praise in the assembly of the faithful. Let Israel be glad in their maker, let the children of Zion rejoice in their king.

Let them praise his name in the festive dance, let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp. For the Lord loves his people, and he adorns the lowly with victory.

Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy upon their couches; let the high praises of God be in their throats. This is the glory of all his faithful.
Verscicle before the Gospel (Jn 10:27): Alleluia. My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me. Alleluia.

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».

«Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door to the kingdom of heaven in people's faces»

Fr. Raimondo M. SORGIA Mannai OP
(San Domenico di Fiesole, Florencia, Italy)

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».