HOMILY FOR THE 31ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A JESUS WANTS COHERENCE BETWEEN OUR FAITH AND LIFE.
- Jesus detests hypocrisy and desires unity and coherence between one’s words and actions.
- The dangers of hypocrisy and the beauty of humility.
Today’s 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A readings illumine the fact that Jesus detests hypocrisy and desires the unity between one’s words and actions, one’s belief and life, one’s faith and conduct.
- This affirmation is shown in the 1st reading (Mal Mal 1:14b–2:2b, 8–10) where the prophet Malachi harshly criticizes the scribes and Pharisees, the leading classes of his time for their hypocrisy and the interested way of carrying out their ministry. The prophet, who lived during the 5th century B.C., launches a hard attack on the priests of his time, for the evil they perform, and the bad example they give. They seek their own glory instead of God’s. As such he calls the priests’ attention:
“You have turned aside from the way, and have caused many to falter by your instruction; you have made void the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts. I, therefore, have made you contemptible and base before all the people, since you do not keep my ways, but show partiality in your decisions.”
- In the Gospel (Mt 23:1-12), Jesus himself reproaches the scribes and Pharisees for their desire for ostentation and for not fulfilling what they teach.
“do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.”
- In the 2nd reading (1 Thes 2:7b–9, 13), Paul manifests appreciation for the community of Thessalonia and reminds them that he has not transmitted to them the words of a man but the Word of God, not only with speech but giving his very own life, setting thus an example for all of us, especially for God’s ministers, to practice what they preach.
“Brothers and sisters: We were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children. With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well, so dearly beloved had you become to us… Working night and day in order not to burden any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.”
Hypocrisy is an attitude wherein a person pretends to be what one is not or to believe what one does not. His behavior contradicts what he claims to believe, feels or preaches.
- The problem is that this behavior often leads to other much worse actions such as deceit, deception, dishonesty, double-dealing, falsity, insincerity, and two-facedness, often motivated by self-interest, vanity, pride and other worldly ambition and benefits.
“Abyssus, abyssum eighbor … — one depth makes answer to another, as I have already reminded you. It is the exact description of how liars, hypocrites, renegades, and traitors behave. As they are disgusted with their own neighbor, they hide their misdeeds from others and go from bad to worse, creating an abyss between themselves and their neighbor. St. Josemaria, Furrow, n. 338.”
- As such, an authentic relationship based on truth is impossible between a hypocrite and other people, most importantly with God.
Jesus teaches, on the other hand, that “The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
- The path which leads to exaltation and glorification is humility and not hypocrisy.
- If we are to have a true and authentic relationship with God and with others, we must strive to be honest to God and to others, always acting according to the Truth and avoiding hypocrisy at all costs. St. Teresa of Jesus, let us be reminded, defined humility as “walking in truth and self-knowledge.”
- Authentic religion, the one God wants, is only made possible by humility which is manifested in service and self-giving to others, and not as a ladder to climb on to feel superior over others, or as an instrument of self-gain.
Let us then ask ourselves:
- Are we honest to ourselves, to others, and to God?
- Do we acknowledge our strengths, our weaknesses, our good deeds, our sins?
- Do we strive to be true to our values at all costs and especially when the going gets tough?
- Do we live according to our Catholic faith or do we make frequent compromises with the world with the excuse of blending in?
- Are our actions conditioned by what others might say or might think about us instead of just doing what is just and right according to God’s eyes?
Let us heed God’s calling today to love the truth and live by it, rejecting hypocrisy in our daily dealings with God and our neighbor. Through the intercession of Our Lady, most humble, let us ask God to grant us the virtues of humility and veracity which will enable us to live accordingly to our faith and to practice what we preach.
A great day and week ahead! Fr. Rolly Arjonillo.
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