MONDAY: Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Humble Witnesses of God
Any sustainable breakdown in spirituality among the baptised will lead to a perversion of Christian values, witness and stewardship. The mind, heart, soul and spirit, once disfigured by self-centeredness will discard the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. They will trample on the virtues and values espoused in the Beatitudes. The ego will take center stage and Christian witness will turn into a parade of impostors. Principles will become mere lips service; courage will plummet like a bird with a broken wing falling from the sky. Self-righteousness will mushroom, self-love will be the agenda and deceit will gradually become the order of the day. Tragically, it is the souls of the meek and humble that become the sacrificial lambs on the altar of mediocrity and duplicity.
Every human soul is an invaluable asset to the kingdom – especially those who are in peril – God cares even more for their salvation (Rom.5:20; 1Tim.1:15). Chastising hypocrisy and duplicity are not signs of rejection but an expression of love, compassion and solidarity on the part of Christ. Although it appears as if Christ Jesus was screaming out at the Pharisees, his annoyance was directed against the blatant display of hypocrisy, blindness and distortion of divine stewardship. In other words, Christ challenged the Pharisees to take charge of their spirituality; do away with duplicity and deception; live according to the virtues, values and valour of the Gospel; become worthy examples of faith and morals for others. In so doing, Christ Jesus was encouraging the Pharisees to become strong moral examples for their disciples and the new converts guiding them into the path of eternal life.
The call to conversion and holiness must boldly confront sin and evil without condemnation just as God intended (Jn.3:17). Nevertheless, the horns must blare at their loudest when inattentive children are dilly-dallying across a busy highway. They are in the line of danger; they must be alerted. Jesus is blaring the horn in today’s Gospel. He is not condemning the Pharisees! No! Christ is alerting them to the dangers they are afflicting to their souls and the confusion they set in the minds of the disciples and their new converts.
Where are we today? Even the blind can tell. Spirituality is at its lowest ebb. The old bark of Christ is adrift. The passengers are falling overboard; the captains and shipmates are caught up in the brawl of self-importance. Their uniforms have become their symbol of honour – as if this is the only badge they must wear with pride. Humankind’s spirituality is their symbol of honour. They cannot afford to tarnish that honour. Christ is counting on us. He is calling on us to put an end to blatant duplicity as exists today; face the truth and return to the Lord. Let God take delight in us (Ps.149:4).
Lord, I place all my trust in you. Deflate my ego and teach me ways of humility and meekness.