REFLECTION FOR TODAY
October 12, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
After Jesus had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools!” Lk. 11:37-40.
The gospel reference today may appear surprising for to reasons. We may wonder why Jesus had to accept the invitation from a Pharisee since this group were always at loggerhead with him. Secondly, we hear Jesus call the Pharisee fool. Did he just do that? Yes, He did.
Jesus accepted the Pharisee’s invitation to demonstrate the Father’s priority of giving over observing. Jesus did not accept the invitation to observe the thing in the life of the Pharisee that were against God’s will instead He decided to give the Pharisee his time and attention to look for an opportunity to share the gospel. The Pharisee had just finished listening to Jesus give a series of teachings and then invited Him to his home for dinner in an apparent gesture of kindness. But this Pharisee is no friend of Jesus. Instead, his hospitality and kindness are a cloak for the evil within his soul.
Aware of his intentions, Jesus respond so fiercely, calling the Pharisee a fool because this Pharisee is filled with hypocrisy. His exterior actions do not flow from a heart filled with charity and faith. Instead, his exterior actions are a show. He is a fraud. This Pharisee, like many others, was very concerned with various external rituals. He believed that doing so was a sign of his holiness and closeness to God. His heart was one that was filled with judgment and self-righteousness. He looked down on others and elevated himself. In doing so, he deceived others and even deceived himself.
As Christian, today’s gospel reference calls us to diligently focus upon that which is in our hearts. Our hearts and our interior life must be blooming with love of God and others. We must place all our efforts on cultivating a sincere life of virtue within. This is done by prayer and humility. Humility will open our eyes to see the truth of who we are. Prayer will strengthen us to change as we see that which needs to be changed within. Only then, when we clearly see the truth of who we are and prayerfully rely upon grace obtained by prayer, will we be able to become people of true integrity and holiness. And only then will our interior holiness be made manifest externally in our actions.
Reflect, today, upon those seemingly hash words of Jesus: “You fools!” Don’t be offended by them; they are words of love from our Lord. They are His fierce attempt to wake this Pharisee up and lead him away from his hypocrisy. Listen to these words as if they were also spoken to you. Every one of us can humbly benefit from this loving chastisement from Jesus. Every one of us needs to humbly be transformed more fully interiorly. So, let Jesus’ words speak to you and reveal to you the ways that you need to change. Perhaps your pride has led you to an interior practice of judgment of others. Perhaps it has blinded you to sins that you need to confess. Do not turn a blind eye to this. Be open, be humble and listen.
Lord, You spoke words of love in many ways. At times You were gentle and at times You were firm. Please give me the grace and humility I need to be open to Your firm rebukes of love. Help me to sincerely see the ways in which I need to change my life so that Your grace will transform my interior life, flowing over into my actions. I love You, dear Lord. Help me to love You more. Jesus, I trust in You.