REFLECTION FOR TODAY
October 13, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply, “Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.” Lk. 11:45-46
When Jesus condemned the Pharisees for tithing mint and rue and every herb but neglect justice and love of God, He was bringing a fundamental truth into focus, love of God and neighbor. This scholar of the law who was listening had his own conscience pricked and challenged Jesus. Jesus quickly and firmly rebuked him, pointing out that as scholar of the law, he uses the law to impose heavy burdens on people.
Jesus did not back down in this rebuke of love. Instead, He directed it to the very place that His rebuke was bearing fruit: in the conscience of the scholar of the law. The experience of this scholar of the law teaches us two important lessons. First, we learn from him the importance of paying attention to our conscience when it is “pricked.” Second, it teaches us that when this happens, it is very easy to become defensive.
As Christians, what is it that pricks our conscience? Let us ponder on those things that make us defensive unknowingly. Is it something that someone said? If that is the case, let us pay attention to it, because sometimes we are bothered for reasons other than our sins. Oftentimes, what bother us is that we come face-to-face with some sins we are struggling with and we are not ready to admit it.
What if this scholar of the law would have listened to Jesus and, instead of being offended, became grateful for Jesus’ words? What if he would have humbly looked at his own life and realized that he was also guilty of the very things that Jesus was condemning the Pharisees for? If he would have done that, he would have been put in a position to sincerely examine his actions and begin a process of change. But this is hard to do.
Reflect, today, upon anything that has recently offended you or make you defensive. Be honest and admit that it is often the case that when God presents you with your sin through some means such as the loving rebuke of another, you must work diligently to overcome any pride. And when you feel defensive, you must immediately see that as an indication that there is something in your life that you need to change. A pricked conscience is a gift from God. Rejoice when that happens, rather than being offended, and you will discover one of the best ways by which you can grow in holiness of life by becoming free of the very sin our Lord is presenting to you.
Lord, You are constantly speaking to me in various ways. Sometimes You are gentle, and at other times You lovingly rebuke me. Please help me to see my sin. As I do, I pray that I will not become defensive or dismissive, rationalizing my erroneous actions. May I learn to rejoice in all that You say to me, especially when You speak Your rebukes of love. Jesus, I trust in You.