The good news for the day August 23

Tuesday of the twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time (426)

Jesus says: “It is too really bad for you, you educated people and religious leaders, you frauds! You pay so much attention to the tiniest dealings in religious matters, but you have neglected the far more important aspects of the Law: being thoughtful, being kind and being honest. Those considerations you should have worked at—without neglecting the rest. Blind guides, who strain out a little gnat just to swallow a camel!

“It is too bad for you, educated people and religious leaders, you frauds! You scrub the outside of cup and bowl, but inside the dishes stay chuck full of ill-gotten wealth and self-centeredness. Blind religious leaders, wash the inside of the cup first, so that its outside can get clean too.” (Matthew 23)

In these “woe to you and you” words, you and I need to hold a mirror and gaze into our own souls. You and I miss it sometimes—choosing to emphasize “my” little rectitude, while overlooking—maybe deliberately—the hard part—the need for thoughtfulness, kindness and honesty.

The Good News calls for awareness, repentance—and the peace that follows. It is sometimes very hard—but rewarding—to stop a knee-jerk reaction of disdain and contempt—to reflect thoughtfully on truth correcting us. It can be excruciatingly hard to act kind, caring, and gently solicitous for someone who “turns us off”—whose character and behavior seem “superior,” “stupid,” and “idiotic”—but it might be exactly when kindness and forgiveness would work a miracle of change. It is the same with honesty—you show a quick rejection of a felon, critic, or betrayer—when your faith, love and trust might trigger repentance.

Yes, frauds and cheats and unkind people exist. Sometimes, with Jesus, though, we need to see such people with open eyes and, with blunt language, point out hypocrisy—but always with the hope they will change. We need to be careful about Good News—not to be “educated people” and “religious leaders” ourselves who fail to be wise, sympathetic and honest.

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