Wednesday, October 15, 2014
28th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Gal 5:18-25
Gospel: Luke 11:42-46
Jesus said, “A curse is on you, Pharisees; for the Temple you give a tenth of all, including mint and rue and the other herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. This ought to be practiced, without neglecting the other. A curse is on you, Pharisees, for you love the best seats in the synagogues and to be greeted in the marketplace. A curse is on you for you are like tombstones of the dead which can hardly be seen; people don’t notice them and make themselves unclean by stepping on them.”
Then a teacher of the Law spoke up and said, “Master, when you speak like this, you insult us, too.” And Jesus answered, “A curse is on you also, teachers of the Law. For you prepare unbearable burdens and load them on the people, while you yourselves don’t move a finger to help them.”
(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)
Jesus condemned the Pharisees for preferring the special seats at banquets. Is it really wrong to prefer the front seats? Can we use today’s Gospel passage to assail the practice of Church officials who assign special seats to benefactors at Pontifical Masses? Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees’ love for front seats has to be interpreted along with the other points he raised against them, such as their meticulous observance of paying tithes to the Temple even on insignificant garden products like mint and rue. In all appearances they were strict in observing justice towards God.
But justice to God, if not complemented with justice to fellowmen, is hypocrisy. Jesus pierced the veil of their hypocrisy by pointing out the incongruence between their meticulous observance of paying 10% tithe to the Temple on all their produce, and their teaching that one can justifiably deny support to their parents by simply dedicating all his properties to God. In describing their hypocrisy Jesus likened them to hidden tombstones. Because it was considered taboo to touch the dead, it was important that tombstones were visible to warn the people not to get any closer. Like whitened tombstones, there were little clues visible in the outside to warn people about their real selves. They appeared so holy, law-abiding and God-fearing. All these however were appearances; deep within, they were no more than rotten corpses.
Against the backdrop of this hypocrisy, their penchant for front seats became detestable. There is nothing wrong with front seats unless these are sought after by accolade-hungry people. When your parish priest assigns special seats to benefactors at Pontifical Masses, he is doing an act of gratitude in the name of the whole parish to these well-meaning people. Gratitude, after all, is really bigger compared to the issue on who should be seated in front. – Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., DM. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.frdan.org.
Prayer for the day: God our Father, as we thank you for the gift of life, we ask you for the gift of charity so that we may persevere in serving our brothers and sisters. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
SAINT OF THE DAY: St. Teresa, founder of the Discalced Carmelites. She was born in Avila, Spain in 1515. When her mother died, Teresa – then 12 years old- went before the image of the Blessed Virgin and implored with tears: From now on, you shall be my mother. At 20, she entered the Carmelite Convent of Avila, but was scandalized by the relaxation of the religious life. But, she persevered in her vocation. Notwithstanding the resistance of many ecclesiastics, in 1561, she founded at Avila the Discalced Carmelites, whose members were committed to strict discipline and almost perpetual silence. They wore sandals instead of shoes as a sign of austerity and poverty. Six years later, together with St. John of the Cross, Teresa founded the Discalced Carmelite Friars. Intelligence was considered an essential requisite for the reformed nuns. As Teresa said: A person can train herself to piety, but more hardly to intelligence. St. Teresa enjoyed mystical revelations and wrote many books filled with sublime doctrine. After her death in 1582, she was declared Doctor of the Church.