GOSPEL COMMENTARY. HYPOCRISY: “BEWARE OF THE LEAVEN OF THE PHARISEES” (Lk 12:1–7). WHAT IS HYPOCRISY?
HYPOCRISY: “BEWARE OF THE LEAVEN OF THE PHARISEES”
At that time: So many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot. Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples, “Beware of the leaven — that is, the hypocrisy — of the Pharisees.
“There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops. I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one. Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.”
Gospel Commentary from F. Fernandez-Carvajal, In Conversation with God, vol. 5, n. 44.
- The word hypocrite comes to us from ancient Greece.
- It signified an actor who put on a mask and costume in order to assume the personality of a particular character in a drama.
- He would thus pretend for the sake of the audience to be someone else, often someone very different from his real self. He would play the part of a king, a beggar or a general, say. It was sufficient for him to ‘impersonate’ someone else, to let the mask and the costume create his assumed identity. His performance was, invariably a public theatrical one, and its success was, always measured by the applause of the crowd.
- The leaven, the prime influential characteristic, of many of the Pharisees was hypocrisy.
- They lived for the approval of men rather than of God.
- Their lives were as false and hollow as an actor’s mask, as his performance on stage.
- The Pharisees had succumbed to the temptation of giving undue importance to the opinions of men at the expense of obedience to God. On a different occasion the Lord criticized them for being white sepulchers: outside, they seem beautiful, but inside they are filled with decaying bones.
- The Pharisees in fact led a double life – one life of masks, appearances, falsehood, which depended on the opinion of men; the other life, a careless and selfish relationship with God.
- The Lord wants his disciples to be leaven, but good, wholesome leaven. He wants them to live a unity of life without masks, double-talk and lies. Jesus wants men and women who lead coherent and sincere lives of faith.
- Let us imitate the Lord in his love for the truth. Let us resolve to shun falsehood and whatever smells of hypocrisy.
- You were reading in that dictionary the synonyms for ‘insincere’: ‘two-faced, surreptitious, evasive, disingenuous, sly’. As you closed the book, you asked the Lord that nobody would ever be able to apply those adjectives to you, and you resolved to improve much more in this supernatural and human virtue of sincerity. (St. Josemaria, Furrow, n. 337)
TOPIC: Do we realize how hypocritical we can be when we do not walk our talk?
In today’s gospel (Luke 12:1-7), Jesus addresses his apostles, “Beware of the leaven–that is, the hypocrisy–of the Pharisees” (Luke 12:1). Yeast is used to ferment. It is a corrupting agent that makes the dough rise when we make bread. Unlike the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, Jesus tells us to walk our talk, practice what we preach and live what we believe.
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