Memorial of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Readings1 THES 2:9-13, Matthew 23:27-32
How can you tell if someone is real or fake, genuine or counterfeit? Outward appearances can be deceptive. Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth (Isaiah 11:3-4). The heart reveals the true intentions and attitudes that form the way we think of others and treat them. Jesus used strong language to warn the religious leaders and teachers about the vanity of outward appearance and pretense.
Jesus warns that what truly corrupts a person is not external ritual impurity but the impurity of wrong and sinful attitudes that come from within a person’s mind and heart – such as pride, greed, sloth, envy, hatred, gluttony, and lust – these are what produce sinful habits (vices) and ways of speaking, acting, judging, and treating others. That is why every good deed is beautiful in God’s sight and every wrong or sinful deed is ugly in his sight. The scribes and Pharisees were intensely religious in their outward observances, but their outward show didn’t match the inner reality of the state of their minds and hearts. They not only neglected the poor and the weak, but they were intolerant towards anyone who challenged their idea of religion.
“Lord Jesus, incline my heart to your wisdom and teach me your ways. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may love your ways and obey your word.”