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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Monday of the Twenty-first Week 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.
Versicle 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 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.”

«Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men»

Abbé Marc VAILLOT (París, France)

Today, once again, the Gospel shows how the goodness of God, who watches over our happiness, is poured out. It tells us clearly what the sources are: truth, goodness, righteousness, justice, love... and all the virtues. It also warns us so as not to fall into the traps - excesses, lusts, deceptions, in a word, sins - that would prevent us from attaining such happiness.

Jesus uses His divine authority to show us clearly the absolute character of the good, which we must pursue, and the evil, which we must avoid at all costs. Hence, His lively and gentle exhortation to respect the magna charta of the Christian life: the Beatitudes, paths that give access to Happiness. In parallel, we find the threatening tone used in today's Gospel: the Curses of those destructive acts that must always be avoided. It is the same Sacred Heart, the same Love that dictates the Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:1 ff) and the Curses.

It is very important to understand that one is as important as the other for those who want to be saved: "Blessed" are the poor; the hearts that thirst for justice; the merciful souls... "Woe to you"... when you scandalize others; when you teach but do not put it into practice; when you corrupt the sound doctrine; when you lead others astray from the right path...

Jesus adds firmly: the greater your responsibility before others, the stronger will be the curse that will fall upon you. Our Lord, in this passage, is addressing the notables: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! (Mt 23:13 ff).

Let us apply this divine teaching to our lives. Our good and our bad actions always have a double impact: one, which falls on ourselves, because each action improves or devastates us; the other, considering our situation as adults, parents, teachers, responsible in any aspect, each of our actions can have repercussions, good or bad, unsuspected: "life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions" (Francis).

And we will have to give an account of it to the love of God!

«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».