Tuesday of the Second Week in Lent
(Isaiah 1:10.16-20; Matthew 23:1-12)
Abraham Lincoln was once accused of being two-faced. He confronted the detraction by telling his audience: “If I had another face, do you think I would be seen wearing with this one?” Calling another two-faced is a way of criticizing her as duplicitous. Jesus is implying this criticism of the Pharisees in today’s gospel. His evaluation has stuck. Today being pharisaical means being duplicitous.
But the Pharisees were not necessarily bad people. In fact, Paul says with pride that he was once a Pharisee. They were men intent on living the precepts of the Law. However, some Pharisees in Jesus’ day were more intent on being seen as living the Law than actually doing it. Some of these accused Jesus of not obeying the Law while he was the one who lived it most implicitly. He made no show of being merciful and pious but dedicated himself to the ways of God to the point of death.
In today’s passage Jesus exhorts us, his disciples, to follow his ways and not those of corrupted Pharisees. He wants us to be coherent in what we do. If we profess to love others, then we should be willing to help them. If we mean to teach our children what is right, then we must act righteously.