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Wednesday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

My dear encountered couples:

Our readings today do not paint a very pretty picture of our humanity. Paul makes a list of evils that dwell within the depths of our souls; Jesus tells the Pharisees and the lawyers off, because of their lack of love and ongoing self-centeredness. “Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and rue but you pay no attention to judgment and love for God!” “Woe to you scholars of the law. You impose heavy burdens on the people that are difficult and painful. Yet you do not lift a finger to touch them!” We are left to wonder how we might fit into all this.

Jesus does not mince any words. The reality is: we all have “a Pharisee” within us. It naturally comes with our human condition. The challenge for us is to recognize when our internal Pharisee is activated.

For the past week St. Paul has been trying to drive home to the Galatians that the era of religious circumcision and the precise keeping of the Law of Moses was over. Oh yes, everyone was to do their best to be perfect, but because of our pharisaical attitudes and the many evils that tempt us from within, no matter how hard we try, we will find till the day we die, that we just cannot achieve perfection. So if we rely on our keeping of all the religious laws to merit us heaven —forget it! Our salvation is through trust and faith in Jesus Christ to deliver us from eternal evil.

“It is obvious what proceeds from the flesh,” writes Paul: “immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.” “Those who belong to Christ Jesus,” says Paul, “have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.”

I’m sure we could add more to his list of evils. There is much within us trying to drag us down to hell. But with the Holy Spirit of Christ also within us to fight our battles for us, we will come out victors. Jesus overcame all the evils that afflict humanity. Through faith in him instead of reliance on ourselves, we can too.

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