The Lord said: “Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb, but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God. These you should have done, without overlooking the others. Woe to you Pharisees! You love the seat of honor in synagogues and greetings in marketplaces. Woe to you! You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk.” Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply, “Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.” (Luke 11:42-46)
Jesus is angry with the Pharisees because many of them were full of pretension so that their external actions were very much different with their internal thought.Then, Jesus told the scholars of the law that they imposed too many burdens on people which were hard to live by and the scribes did nothing to help. Strong words of rebuke, indeed!
The good Lord sure didn’t make very many friends talking to the people in his own religious community this way. Incidents like these, piled on top of each other, no doubt added fuel to the fire when the Pharisees and scribes were deciding to have him crucified. You can feel Christ’s anger in his words, but the anger in the religious leaders of his time was just beginning to smolder.
What Jesus wants for the Pharisees then and for us now is to lead by example; let us mean what we say and live what we say. This is where we are often lacking, yes we go to church and yes we worship God. But do we translate these to living acts of faith? Do we really live what we say?
Jesus lived every word that He preached, for example Jesus preached simplicity of lifestyle, He therefore lived this simple lifestyle. Jesus preached about forgiveness and He lived His preaching of forgiveness as well.
The essence of God’s commandments is love — love of God and love of neighbor. God is love and everything he does flows from his love for us. Love is sacrificial; it both embraces and lifts the burdens of others. Do we allow the love of God to transform our mind and heart? Are we willing to carry our neighbor’s burden even if it is burdensome to us?
Much has been written about “walking the talk” but sometimes we overlook the import of those words. Walking the talk does not mean doing what we say some of the time. Or living what we say when its convenient. It truly means shouldering the burden whenever it is needed. That does not mean to our own self detriment or to the detriment of our family. That would be contradictory to the great command of love.
But it does mean that there are times when shouldering the burden is inconvenient, or not opportune or not when we feel like doing it. But if we are followers of Christ, we honor that command.
If we were saints, then our faith would be so strong that even the very worst of situations would have no effect on us. But, most of us aren’t saints. We are influenced by our surroundings way too much. And we are influenced by those around us. That is why it is often better to surround ourselves with people who follow the great commandment.
It is true that we become like the people who are around us. Just as our parents paid attention to what kind of friends we had when we were children for a reason. This reason doesn’t change just because we became an adult. The people we surround ourselves with in life will affect us. The more we are with them, the more their values, outlook on life, faith or lack of faith, morals, etc. will wear off on us. This is true with major sins, but it is also true with those who have a positive or negative outlook in life too.
We should take a look at the quality of the friendships we have formed, or extended family members that constantly make us miserable, and ask ourselves if they are a positive influence in our lives? Or do they bring out more of our sinful inclinations, or negative thinking in us?
The pharisees and the scribes were the anti-model for us. The best model we have is Jesus Christ. While few of us will ever be able to emulate his love or his self-sacrifice, we are asked to try, each day, to be like Him. Each day. We are asked to shoulder His burden and to love. Each day. To help each of us accomplish that, the Lord brings into our lives those who share our beliefs. Each day. Look inside, look around and see the love of Christ in front of you, beside you and in your words and actions.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord, inflame my heart with your love that I may always pursue what matters most — love of God and love of neighbor. Give me wisdom and courage to act with justice, kindness, and mercy in all that I do and say.”
“Christianity is not a matter of persuading people of particular ideas but of inviting them to share in the greatness of Christ. So pray that I may never fall into the trap of impressing people with clever speech but instead I may learn to speak with humility, desiring only to impress people with Christ Himself.” (Ignatius of Antioch)