Confronting hypocrites

Pencil Preaching for Wednesday, October 12, 2022

“Woe to you Pharisees” (Luke 11:42).

Gal 5:18-25; Luke 11:42-46

Jesus reserved his harshest criticism for religious leaders who misled and exploited the people they were supposed to be guiding. He called them "hypocrites," a Greek word meaning one who wears a mask. They appeared to be upright and caring, but underneath were self-serving and blinded by their own sense of importance. They killed the Spirit of God within themselves, and were therefore like dead men's graves, whitewashed on the surface but containing corruption and skeletons. They kept the small rules but failed to obey the greatest commandment to love.

Jesus' greatest indictment was that these so-called moral guides had piled rules and scruples on the shoulders of struggling people but had done nothing to help them.

St. Paul tells the Galatians that integrity rests on which spirit you exhibit. Whatever we appear to be, what reveals our true character is who we are inside. He contrasts the qualities of the Holy Spirit-- love, joy, patience, gentleness, self-control-- with the enslavement of others who indulge in rancor, envy, jealously, divisiveness, impurity and selfishness.

Jesus has said that God will give the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks for it. We must pray for the Spirit, but then be ready to surrender our entire lives, inside and out, to that Spirit, for holiness is wholeness. There can be no half measure or compromise in our desire to entrust ourselves to the Holy Spirit. But this is the path to joy, peace and love. What more can we want out of life than this?

Pat Marrin

Pat is the former editor of our sister publication, Celebration, and he also served as NCR cartoonist. After retirement in 2016, Pat continues to contribute to NCR with his Francis comic strip and Pencil Preaching.

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