2 Thessalonians 2:1-3a, 14-17
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus continues His denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees. In the first part of our passage (Matthew 23:23-24), Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for paying attention to the minutiae of the Law, while at the same time neglecting "the weightier things…: judgment and mercy and fidelity."
This attention to trivial details while neglecting the larger issues is a temptation for us as well as it was for the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. In some newspapers, for example, the latest gossip about celebrities is near the front of the paper while international news, for instance, is put somewhere in the middle, or even further back. I think the temptation is so great because it is a lot easier to get caught up in things that don’t matter than struggling with the things that do. This can happen in the church as well.
And so we need to take heed of Jesus’ words. We have to be careful that our attention to small things does not blind or deafen us to the plight of our brothers and sisters in the world. Yes, constantly grappling with the problems of the world can make us morose and even lead us to despair. But we need to make sure we have not become numb to the pain of those around us. We need not despair, for we are not alone. As St. Paul writes in our first reading from 2 Thessalonians: "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word."
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P. is pastor of Holy Family parish, Fairfield, Alabama.