WHEN JESUS HAD FINISHED SPEAKING, one of the Pharisees invited Him to his house for dinner. Jesus accepted the invitation, entered the man’s house, and reclined at the dinner table. But his host, dismayed, began asking himself why He had not first washed His hands, as the law of the Pharisees required. But Jesus said:
“Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but within you are full of robbery and wickedness. Foolish ones! did not he who made the outside make the inside too? Nevertheless, give that which remains as alms; and behold, all things are clean to you. But woe to you Pharisees! because you pay tithes on mint and rue and every herb, and disregard justice and the love of God. But these things you ought to have done, while not leaving the others undone. Woe to you Pharisees! because you love the front seats in the synagogues and greetings in the market place. Woe to you! because you are like hidden tombs, over which men walk unawares.”
Here a guest who was a teacher of the Law interrupted and said, “Master, in saying these things, Thou insultest us also.” Jesus said in reply:
“Woe to you lawyers also! because you load men with oppressive burdens and you yourselves with one of your fingers do not touch the burdens. Woe to you! for you build the tombs of the prophets, whereas your fathers killed them. So then you are witnesses and approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs. For this reason also the wisdom of God has said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles; and some of them they will put to death and persecute, that the blood of all the prophets that has been shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, who was slain between the altar and the temple.’ Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation. Woe to you lawyers! because you have taken away the key of knowledge; you have not entered yourselves and those who were entering you have hindered.”
Meditation: As we read the numerous denunciations by Christ of the externalism of the Pharisees, we might begin to suspect that external religious observances are of no importance. In the remarks made at the dinner given by the Pharisee, Christ again censures pharisaical preoccupation with ritual and legal externals. But He adds, in this instance, “these things you ought to have done, while not leaving the others undone.” External religious practices are important, too, but they must be animated by internal devotion.
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 149-150. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.