REFLECTION FOR TODAY
October 14, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say. Lk. 11:53-54
The truth is always bitter and when spoken, it would be opposed greatly. Jesus never stops from speaking the truth and rebuking evil and pretense or hypocrisy. Jesus had been invited to dinner by a Pharisee who apparently wanted to lean more about him and his message. Soon the harmonious gathering disintegrated into discord as Jesus caustically denounced his host and all his associate. Jesus abruptly left the gathering leaving the Pharisees and Scribe to initiate a scrutiny of his word to trap him and destroy him.
Just as the word of God clashes with the ideas of men, Jesus clashed with the scribes and Pharisees whose hearts had grown cold to God. We observe from our gospel reference today that because of Jesus’ rebuke on these religious leaders, they “began to act with hostility” toward him.
Normally, when we act with hostility toward another, it is done with the mind frame that we are right, and they are wrong. We justify our hostility by pointing to their perceived sin. However, it must be understood that every act of hostility on our part is a clear indication that we have started down the road of sin and are not justified in our obsession.
These religious leaders exercised their hostility toward Jesus by interrogating Him. That is, in their anger, they kept asking Him questions to find some fault with Him. They tried to trick Him and trap Him with their speech using God’s very Law handed down through Moses and the prophets. But they manipulated that Law to justify their hostility and, out of pride, to falsely accuse Jesus.
Ponder about any times in your life in which you found yourself somewhat obsessed with what you judged to be the sin of another. Hostility in this case can even be passive, meaning you may present a kind disposition on the surface, but interiorly you are obsessively thinking about how you can condemn the person.
Often when this happens, we can feel justified in that we convince ourselves that justice must be done and that we are the dispensers of that justice. But if God is in control of our lives, He will not call us to obsessive scrutiny or plotting regarding another. Instead, when we are following the will of God, we will sense Him inspiring us to act with immediacy, calm, joy, kindness, honesty, and freedom from all anger and obsession.
On the other hand, whenever we seek to draw close to Jesus, we will encounter opposition. People might say we are being too extreme, too literal too orthodox or even too unorthodox. Just as the Pharisees and scribes misunderstood Jesus, spoke out against him and impeded his plans and actions, so it may be with us.
Reflect, today, upon any way that you have seen this misguided tendency within your own life. If you can identify a time when you struggled with hostility toward another, look at the fruit it bore. Was God glorified through your actions? Did this leave you at peace or agitated? Were you fully objective in your thinking? Be honest with these questions and you will begin to discover the road to freedom from such obsessive thinking. God wants you to be at peace. If there is injustice, trust that our Lord will sort it out. You, for your part, must continually work to forgive, act with charity, and direct your attention to the will of God as it is gently presented to you.
Lord, You were falsely accused and condemned by many of the religious leaders of Your time because You spoke the pure truth with love, clarity and boldness. When I act with hostility and anger toward another, help me to turn from these sins so that I will never condemn, never judge and never manipulate Your divine Law for my own purposes. Fill me with Your peace and charity alone, dear Lord. Jesus, I trust in You.