Liturgical Colour : Green
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we continue what we had heard from the previous day’s theme on the sins and corruptions of the Pharisees and the elders of the people of Israel. The seven woes of the Pharisees as they are known, are highlighted in today’s Gospel, with Jesus continuing to rebuke these vile and corrupt leaders who brought their people into destruction.
It was greatly stressed, the importance of walking and doing the faith, and not just merely concerned about the externalities and the formalities of the Law, but also the teachings and the ways of the Lord must be lived within the soul, heart and mind, so that in all things, we may truly be representing the Lord to all those who see us, who hear us and who witness our actions and deeds in all things.
Indeed, the fundamentals of the Law of God are justice, mercy and faith as Jesus had said. The Pharisees, the scribes and the teachers of the Law are too preoccupied on the external applications and details of the Law so as to forget the true meaning and purpose of those laws in the first place. Rather than trusting in God and His truth revealed in Jesus, they persecuted the faithful and rejected He who came to save His people, preferring to trust in men, in their own power and wisdom than in the wisdom and truth of the Lord.
Why justice? Because the Law of God is indeed just, and it was not crafted to torture or make the lives of men difficult. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law continued on the expansions and the increasingly difficult application of the Law of God as revealed through Moses. In the Torah, the first Book of our Bible, also known as the Pentateuch, scattered through the Book of the Exodus, Leviticus, Number and Deuteronomy, are the laws of God given to Moses.
However, over the centuries and over time, the interpretation of these laws had become very rigid and extremely punitive in nature. The Lord Himself did not intend for these to be punitive and harmful in nature, but instead these were meant to lead the people of God to have a good discipline in life, particularly in the matter of their faith, so that they would always stick to the right paths in life. We know from our reading of those same Books, how unfaithful and difficult the people of Israel could be, both during their forty years journey and when they were already dwelling in the Promised Land.
But this should not become the kind of interpretation which the Pharisees had done to the laws, which ended up as a kind of leash and prison to the faithful who were forced to endure the numerous observations which apparently numbered as many as six hundred and thirteen laws, rules and regulations. Many of these observations ended up in the Pharisees abusing their authority and oppressing the people, losing the true meaning and intention of the Law.
And then, the Law is also about mercy. The Pharisees were so utterly convinced in their actions and deeds, that they believed that they were alone the most righteous and greatest among the people of God, as the only ones on whom the Lord cast His favour on. They believed that because they did as they had done, they were allowed to do what they thought was right on others, to the point of abusing others and casting judgments on others.
Remember what they did when the faced the man who was born blind and then was cured by Jesus? The Pharisees and elders of Israel tried to discredit the good works and miracles of Jesus, and when they failed to do so, they cursed and blamed the man who was born blind and healed, and they called him cursed and sinner, since the day he was born, a truly preposterous and horrible action indeed, one that is unworthy of these supposedly pious servants of God.
The Pharisees also condemned the woman who committed adultery, arguing that because she committed sin she deserved to die according to the Law. However, Jesus thought otherwise, and He highlighted the important of forgiveness and mercy, as the way for salvation. The Law was truly intended to guide mankind back to the Lord, so that the Lord might exercise His mercy, rather than punishing them.
And lastly, the Law is also about faith. This is not superficial and superfluous faith of the Pharisees who were concerned mostly with their own faith and their own piety, for the praise of the people rather than to help one another into salvation through faith. The Law must be obeyed with understanding and true sincerity and desire, or otherwise, it will do no good to us at all.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect together on this, let us all together help one another to grow in our faith and devotion to the Lord, and also in our love towards our fellow men, which also means love among ourselves. Let us not be discouraged or be distracted by the devil and his tricks and lies. Rather, let us all continue to believe in God and seek to understand further the power of His love. God bless us all and may we continue to obey His love with full understanding. Amen.