Jun 9 (Mt 5:20-26)

It is said that there are two extremely fatal phrases in the English language. 
>> They are
1. “What is the use?”
2. “Why should I?”

“What is the use?” is the fatal tendency…
… that causes people to look at the world from a purely pragmatic perspective

>> Such a tendency…
…  causes people to lose interest in things and people, if they don’t seem useful and beneficial
… causes people to  manipulate people, things and situations in a way that suits their self-interests

“Why should I?” is the fatal tendency…
… that causes people to look at the world from a resigned and indifferent perspective

>> Such a tendency…
… causes people to rot in lethargy and tepidity and lose the spice of life
… causes people to push the responsibility to other, and themselves slacken in comfort and ease

These two phrases were very much reflected in the “Pharisaic and the Scribal lifestyle” which Jesus, in today’s Gospel invites each us to surpass and overcome.

>> The “What is the use” lifestyle…
… which made them to only flaunt their external piety and lose sight of the unglamorous aspect of devotion

>> The “Why should I” lifestyle…
… which made them to reject any offer calling them to repentance or amend their ways and instead made them to be stuck to their own prejudices and adamant patterns of thought.

Jesus always keeps challenging us!
The Lord loathes laziness and lukewarmness…
>> He loves to keep raising the standard of our holiness and faith!

This challenge is reflected in today’s Gospel Reading.

Jesus says, ” Unless your righteousness exceeds that of Scribes & Pharisees, you can’t enter the Kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5: 20)

The righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees would consist…
… in a lifestyle which insisted only on the exact following of the ‘letter’ of the Law neglecting its spirit
… in a tendency to neglect the fundamental aspects of the Law and focus only on the peripheries

What could be some of the negative aspects of the Righteousness of Scribes and Pharisees, which Jesus condemns…and which perhaps, we need to overcome?

1. They liked to preach…but not practise

We live in a world where there are many people who are good in preaching, writing reflections and advising on spiritual matters.
>> But very often, a massive chasm appears between their preaching and their way of life.

The Scribes and Pharisees seemed to be in this category of people.

2. They liked to do things to “show-off”

A tragedy of religious practices can be, when things are done not to please God, but to win the approval and endorsement of people.
>> Religious piety and devotions very often become means to have self-gratification of one’s senses, and sadly, even platforms to boast and brag about one’s capacities and capabilities.

The Scribes and Pharisees seemed to be in this category of people.

3. They liked to make the Word of God, user-friendly, at the cost of God’s Will:

One of the trends in the modern world, is to have all products and gadgets “user-friendly”.

Sadly, this trend is also often applied to the Word of God.
>> The Word of God, its commandments and laws are twisted and condensed and expanded and interpreted and quoted and explained and elucidated – all to suit one’s own comfortable and pleasurable way of life!

The Scribes and Pharisees seemed to be in this category of people.

Am I in any of these category of peoples??

The Lord challenges us today.. to exceed this sort of a righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees.

We need to be people…
… “who walk the talk”!
… “who practice our Faith to Please God and Him alone
… “who live a Gospel-oriented life”

The Gospel ought to mould and shape us – and not we changing the Word of God to suit and justify our secured and comfortable lives!
>> Gal 1:10, says,” If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ.”

Our modern world strongly advocates the two fatal phrases of…
… “What is the use?” and “Why should I?”

As followers of Christ, it is our duty and task to go beyond such a “Pharisaic and Scribal Lifestyle”…
… and live as Jesus would want us to!

We need to counter these two fatal phrases, with inspirational mantras…
>> “What is the use?” is to be countered by “All to Thy Glory!”
>> “Why should I?” is to be countered by “To let Thy Will be done!”

Let all our actions and thoughts be directed only to God.
Let our Lives truly be a Good News!
>>  As St Francis of Assisi says, “Preach the Gospel always…use words, if necessary!“

God Bless us! Live Jesus!

– Fr Jijo Manjackal msfs
  Bengaluru, India

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