Wednesday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time
(Galatians 5:18-25; Luke 11:42-46)
In the gospels Jesus seems to have a running battle with Pharisees. But we should not think that Pharisees are necessarily his enemies. As he has done before and will do again in Luke’s gospel, Jesus in today’s passage is dining at the home of a Pharisee. Obviously there are some differences of outlook, but Jesus also holds much in common with Pharisees. We may validly suppose that some of the criticism in the gospels of Pharisees stems not so much from Jesus’ time but from the time of the evangelists when Pharisee-like Christians were bearing down hard on others.
Catholics even today, like some Pharisees of Jesus’ time and Christians of the first century, sometimes pay too much attention to details and too little to the gospel message. Some go to church checking to see if the holy water fountains are filled rather than reviewing the Mass’s readings. Others like to gossip about the pastor’s use of a profanity without noticing their sin of detraction.
In today’s gospel Jesus compares the nit-picking Pharisees to “unseen graves.” He means to say that they are already dead because they do not accept the love of God which brings life. St. Teresa of Avila, less somberly but with the same impatience, once prayed, “God save us from sad-faced saints.” Both she and Jesus realize that righteous living is not so much frowning on other people’s sins as turning to God in thanksgiving for our blessings and praying for those in special need of help.