today’s other readings are 2 Corinthians 3:15 – 4:6 and Psalm 85
One of my biggest fears as a priest is that I find myself in a position in which I am no longer in touch with the reality of the lives of the people I am called to serve, my parishioners, and hence my ministry becomes irrelevant.
As we hear in our gospel, Jesus frequently criticized the scribes and Pharisees for their external conformity to keeping all the laws of the Jewish faith but at the same time lacking an internal conversion. Their righteous appearance and ritual perfection covered hearts stiff with pride and judgment, always on the lookout to point fingers at those who failed to do so. They would never murder, but they angrily dismissed people as ignorant fools; they did not commit adultery, but they lusted in their hearts.
Jesus criticized the scribes and Pharisees for not admitting they needed God’s mercy as much as anyone. For refusing to acknowledge their human weaknesses and their need for God’s forgiveness, they had become hypocrites and ineffective leaders cut off from ordinary experience and the needs of their people. In many ways, they had become irrelevant.
We all need to be truly honest with ourselves. We all need God’s never-ending forgiveness. You do. And just as importantly, I do. And may I never forget that.