Wednesday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
(II Thessalonians 3:6-10.16-18; Matthew 23:27-32)
Both readings today convey invectives. In the passage from II Thessalonians St. Paul bewails idlers. He says that they always come to eat but never to work. As a remedy to their laziness, Paul would deny them food. He offers himself as a counterexample. If anyone could be dispensed from physical work, it is Paul, the preacher and teacher. But he always does his share of the physical work in order to set good example.
Jesus’ criticism in the gospel is more severe. He accuses the Pharisees not only of duplicity but of murder! He knows that they are conspiring to kill him and takes them to task for it in advance. At the beginning of his public ministry Jesus named the “blessed” for their trust in God. Now at the end he pronounces “woe” to those who exploit God’s name.
We cannot say, “Never criticize,” after hearing St. Paul and Jesus doing just that. Nevertheless, we should judge carefully before doing so. Even then, let our words be measured and never be cruel. Our intention should always be to correct wrong-doing, not to destroy the wrong-doer.