Tuesday of the Second Week in Lent
(Isaiah 1:10.16-20; Matthew 23:1-12)
A cartoon once appeared in the newspaper featuring a well-heeled couple emerging from church. They thank the preacher for never saying anything to offend people like themselves! The couple would have walked out in a huff if they were to hear what Isaiah says in today’s first reading.
Isaiah reminds especially the well-off of their responsibility for the needy. They must assure that the rights of the defenseless are not violated. Wrongs against them are to be prosecuted and their children must be taken care of. In the gospel Jesus critiques the Pharisees for their obtuseness toward the same needy. Rather than assist the poor, the Pharisees make life harder for them. Meanwhile they seek praises from the people for carrying out lesser precepts.
We must take care never to act self-righteously like the Pharisees. It is good, of course, to pray regularly. But we must recognize that God demands that we also assist those in need. It is not wrong to wear a silver cross or to pray with a crystal rosary. But we also must send some of our resources to organizations that are helping the poor to live decently.