HOMILY FOR MONDAY OF THE SECOND WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B
HOMILY THEME: THE CRITICISM OF THE PHARISEES
BY: Fr. Benny Tuazon
In the day’s Gospel, Jesus addressed the criticism of the Pharisees. Specifically, Jesus revealed their hypocrisy and hardness of heart. The Pharisees were stuck with the Torah. They tried to follow it to the letter. The result was the inability to change.
Jesus gave two analogies; new cloth to patch the hole of an old pants and pouring new wine in an old wineskin. His point was that when the new and the old meet, tension occurs. Usually, the old gives way to the new. The same with the Pharisees who had lived and professed the Jewish faith. Unfortunately, they had added a lot in the law given by God which drowned the essence of the law. In fact, the original ten commandments ballooned into 613 commandments! Jesus, when asked which of the commandments was the greatest, responded with two; love of God and love of neighbor.
What Jesus was doing was to point out the essence of the law. Laws were not mere sets of do’s and don’ts but commitments to a relationship. The Jews focused and, in a way, deified their laws making them more important than them. Jesus reminded them that the law was made for men and not vice versa. Sabbath, for example, was supposed to provide them a time to rest and commune with the Lord.
However, they had regarded it so much that helping a neighbor, like curing the sick, or rescuing a beast of burden, like an ox, were prohibited. Jesus brings newness to the old. And that provided the tension.
For the Pharisees, who was this Jesus from Nazareth, son of Mary and Joseph, the carpenter? Who was He to tell them they were doing and had interpreted them wrong? The situation of the Pharisees were quite understandable. However, if they knew their Scriptures well, and opened their eyes, hearts and minds, it would have been different.
The same challenge exists today. What are the basics of our Catholic Faith? What is moral and what is faithful? But also, what is humane and relevant? Tensions and tensions are all over. Hard to establish a balance. Some are branded conservative, some are progressive. Some are traditional and some are modern. But it is more than those labels. It is about the spirit of the law. It is about having a high respect on the law but still being open to situations transcending those laws for the good of men. It is an admission that laws are limited and possibilities are numerous.
Needless to say, Jesus gives us a very good reminder today. Let us not commit the same mistake the Jews committed. Let us listen well to Jesus. He is the way, the truth, and the life!