“Before there can be glory there must be humility” (Proverbs 18.12)

They were good people,
they would go to the temple every day,
fast, pray, give alms.
When they erred, they always had an explanation ready in their sleeve:
teenage girls dress so provocatively today,
my wife is always irritable,
today children do not show respect to anyone…

Because they were good,
they considered themselves better than everyone else,
they felt they could easily point the finger at others,
they regarded others as naught.
they enjoyed looking so good on the outside.
It was very important for them what others thought of them.

Unsurprisingly they were very rigid
on anything that pertained to God:
they had to wash your hands before meals,
bathe after going to the market,
cleanse well the jugs and bronze kettles…

Yes, they were really good people.
There were about six thousand of them in Jesus’ time.
They were known as the Pharisees.

They had one problem:
they could not accept
this man who was possessed by the devil -this is what they claimed –
whom they considered crazy, a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of the publicans and the prostitutes,
who broke so easily the holy precepts
whose name was Jesus!

And let’s be clear,
even Jesus
did not take them in so well!
He called them: “hypocrites, blind, foolish leaders,
whitened sepulchers, sons of the prophet’s murderers,
serpents and brood of vipers…”

He reproached them because he loved them.
Because this was the only means to bring them to their senses.
Somehow out of his love for the truth.
He had to show them how deceived they were
in using the law to look good themselves
and despise others.
It was the only means to show them that in life
the most important thing is not the law and its accomplishment
but love, mercy, compassion and service.

And when He could not enlighten them any more,
He let them seize him, insult him, kill him.
Just to show them how much he loved them.
He died for them.

Today there are many more than six hundred Pharisees.
A number of them are preaching Jesus Christ…

They are loading heavy bundles on others’ shoulders
whilst they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
They do everything for people to see.
They love the places of honor,
they love to be greeted.
They give importance to casuistry,
They do not show mercy-justice-honesty,
They strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

Inside they are full of stealing and greed.
They kill the prophets of our times with criticism and ugly looks.

A voice within keeps telling me:
“Son, never, never
hurt a person’s heart”
not even in the name of the law.

My prayer is:
purge from my interior being
the lethal virus of the Pharisees.
Create in me a pure heart, a compassionate heart.

“The Lord says this:
What did your ancestors find wrong in me for them to have deserted me so far
as to follow Futility and become futile themselves?
They never said, “Where is The Lord, who brought us out of Egypt
and led us through the desert, through a land of plains and ravines,
through a land of drought, of shadow dark as death, a land through which no one passes
and where no human being lives?”
I brought you to a country of plenty,
to enjoy its produce and good things;
But when you entered you defiled my country
and made my heritage loathsome.
The priests never asked, “Where is The Lord?’
Those skilled in the Law did not know me,
The shepherds too rebelled against me
and the prophets prophesied by Baal
and followed the Useless Ones.
So I must state my case against you once more,
The Lord declares.” (Jeremiah 2.5-9a)


 

(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.