Memorial of St. Monica, holy woman
(II Thessalonians 3:6-10.16-18; Matthew23:27-32)
St. Monica is known today for her praying for her son, the great St. Augustine. She was a holy woman who remained faithful to her unfaithful husband and solicitous of her son’s conversion. Augustine seems to have gone through opposite phases of detesting the world and glorying in its pleasures. For a while he was a Manichean, the sect that professed belief in a benign principle of the spirit and an evil principle of matter. He also had a mistress and once prayed famously, “Make me chaste, O Lord, but not just yet!”
In today’s gospel Jesus castigates such inconsistency. He tells the Pharisees that their intentions do not match their actions. If they want to honor the prophets, then they must follow the prophets’ call to reformation of heart.
We should not be dismayed to see Augustine’s and the Pharisees’ inconsistency in us. It is deeply human in the sense that our physical emotions often run counter to right reason. We should pray for one another like Monica prayed for Augustine. We need to ask the Spirit to transform our hearts completely so that we might love like God loves.