1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
In today’s Gospel reading, we hear Jesus pronouncing "woes" on the scribes and the Pharisees. He calls them hypocrites because they pay greater attention to the details of the Law than to the more important parts of it: "judgment and mercy and fidelity."
The Pharisees’ sin is not that they obey the Law. It is not that they know the Law through and through. The sin of the Pharisees is that they use their knowledge of the Law not to help people, but so that they can pass judgment on them.
We have to be careful that we don’t have the same attitude as the Pharisees to whom Jesus was speaking. We, too, can get caught up in our knowledge of this or that, and "puff up" ourselves, in order to look down on others (1 Corinthians 8:1).
Rather than have the attitude of the Pharisees, we are called to have the attitude of St. Paul, and his companions Silvanus and Timothy, which we find in our reading from 1 Thessalonians. At the end of our reading St. Paul writes: "With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well, so dearly beloved had you become to us."
Giving of ourselves is the best way to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to others. If we were to simply focus on the externals, our message wouldn’t go very far, and people would find it very hard to believe in the Gospel. Our challenge is to let the love of God in Jesus Christ enter our hearts, and then to share that love with the world. The more love we share, the more the Gospel is proclaimed, and the more the world knows that there is a reason to believe, to hope, to love, and to live.
May God continue to bless us, and purify us in order to do His will.
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P. is the director of St. Paul of the Cross Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.