REFLECTION FOR TODAY,
August 4, 2020
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
Then his disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” He said in reply, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” Matthew 15:12-14
Why were the Pharisees offended? In part because Jesus just spoke critically of them. But it was more than that. They were also offended because Jesus doesn’t even answer their question.
These Pharisees and scribes came to ask Jesus what was, in their minds, a very important question. They wanted to know why His disciples failed to follow the tradition of the elders by not washing their hands before they ate. But Jesus does something interesting. Instead of answering their question, He gathers a crowd and says, “Hear and understand. It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles the man; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one” (Mt. 15:10b-11). So they were offended by Jesus both because of what He said and because He didn’t even say it to them but spoke it to the crowds.
What’s interesting to note is that sometimes the most charitable thing one can do will result in another being offended. We ought not recklessly offend. But it seems that one of the cultural tendencies of our day and age is to avoid offending people at all costs. As a result, we dumb down morality, ignore clear teachings of faith, and make “getting along” one of the most important “virtues” we strive for.
In the passage above, it’s clear that Jesus’ disciples are concerned about the fact that the Pharisees were offended by Jesus. They worry and appear to want Jesus to fix this tense situation. But Jesus makes His position clear. “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit” (Mt. 15:14).
Charity requires the truth. And sometimes the truth will sting a person to the heart. Clearly this is exactly what the Pharisees need even though they fail to change, which is evident by the fact that they ultimately killed Jesus. But, nonetheless, these truths spoken by our Lord were acts of charity and were the truth that these scribes and Pharisees needed to hear.
Reflect, today, upon how willing you are to speak the hard truth in love when a situation requires it. Do you have the courage you need to charitably speak an “offensive” truth that needs to be spoken? Or do you tend to cower and prefer to allow people to remain in their error so that you do not agitate them? Courage, charity and truth must become deeply intertwined in our lives. Make this your prayer and mission so that you will better imitate our divine Lord.
Lord, please do give me courage, truth, wisdom and charity so that I may be a better instrument of Your love and mercy to the world. May I never allow fear to control me. Please remove any blindness from my heart so that I can see clearly the many ways You desire to use me to lead others to You. Jesus, I trust in You.