The Scribes and the Pharisees

Reading I: Malachi 1:14b-2:2b, 8-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 131:1, 2, 3
Reading II: 1 Thessalonians 2:7b-9, 13
Gospel: Matthew 23:1-12

The Scribes and the Pharisees lived in a world of their own and were no longer in touch with the hard life of the ordinary people. They multiplied rituals and religious practices which they themselves followed faithfully, but which became heavy burdens on people. Such lifestyle made it impossible for them to live like other people for too many things were forbidden as in the area of cleanliness. Pharisees carried this burden with joy, for it was their dream to be faithful to every letter of the law. It also gave them a standing in the community. For ordinary people, the accumulation of rules made life impossible. Contact with many things made them unclean, requiring constant ritual washing. On the other hand, faith in Jesus sets people free from those paralyzing rules, since He gave a commandment of love.
Every religion has a tendency to protect its value with a set of rules. To receive the Lord in communion is one of the great treasures of our religion. We should be in the right disposition to receive Him and the Eucharistic fast, helps us to prepare ourselves mentally for this. Yet, it should not prevent us from receiving the Lord when circumstances of time or work are difficult, for receiving the Lord is more important than observing the Eucharistic fast to the minute. Our religion is a cause for joy for we see God as a loving Father, forgiving the sinner, teaching us a commandment of love, respecting and appreciating our humanity as expressed in sexuality, reason and freedom.
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