“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Have you ever heard the phrase “two-by-four person?” It refers to someone who finds it very difficult to grasp the meaning of a gentle suggestion or order. As a result, the person trying to communicate in a kind manner must simply take the old two-by-four out and knock the person over the head with the message in order to make certain they fully get it. Most parents and managers have probably run into some of these people. It can feel terrible to communicate so forcefully, but nevertheless necessary.
This certainly sounds like the point to which Jesus had gotten with the scribes and Pharisees by the time of the scene in today’s gospel. It does seem very harsh, but the stakes are high and it is time to speak with complete truth and honesty. It is time for “tough love.”
It is very appropriate we hear this gospel on the feast of St. Monica who shed many a tear over the life Augustine, her son, led for many years. I can imagine she had many very tough conversations with him about his poor choices.
Even when the old “two-by-four” has to be used, ask for the grace to swing it with love and compassion.
—David McNulty works for the Midwest Jesuits. Dave and his wife Judy are grandparents of six.
Lord, direct me to make something good happen for at least one other person today. Guide me to make life easier for them, to make that person feel happier. Perhaps I can do this by telling someone how hard/well they work.
Let me be an agent of your love. Help me to treat everyone I meet today as though they were my best friend, that I haven’t seen in a very long time. In other words, let me see you in them. In doing so, I believe, that I will become hyper alive!
—John MonczunskiPlease share the Good Word with your friends!