Jesus is the light of the world, bringing light into the darkness of our suffering, but also sometimes shining the light of truth into the darkness of our own sin. Today Jesus shines an uncomfortable light into the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.
When we look at the men who followed Christ, who do we see? Fishermen from the rural parts of Judea, a Zealot, a tax collector…not the most refined of people. When the Pharisees see some of the disciples eating without washing their hands, seeking to discredit their Teacher, they immediately question their religious devotion. Suddenly the Pharisees find themselves being taught a lesson.
God sees into the heart; there is no darkness to Him Who Is Light. Jesus reveals to the Pharisees their hollow religiosity, quoting Scripture to teach them what the Law and even the religious traditions of the elders are meant to do: to teach the heart to love God. A heart that loves God is open to His light; such a heart is luminous with His love, and it is a luminosity that spreads to others, a fire that ignites others with love for God. These Pharisees, without knowing Jesus’ disciples at all, condemn them based on their table etiquette alone: a heart in the Light sees by the Light, not by shadow and darkness.
But Christ the Light penetrates even further into the darkness of these men, showing how their tradition of any wealth dedicated to God being untouchable can actually break God’s Law. In his piety a man could dedicate wealth and other goods to God, and it could not be used for any other reason. But, Jesus points out, there are those who claim their wealth is dedicated to God so that they do not have to provide for their parents in their old age, breaking the Commandment of honoring one’s parents. Their own darkness is exposed in the light of the Truth.
How easy it is to find comfort in that same shade, to content ourselves with being good citizens because we break no laws, or good Christians because we commit no serious sins: how easy it is to believe we are good based upon what we don’t do! But the command of Jesus to love is an active one. Ours is a living faith in which the doctrine and traditions are meant to teach us how to love. Heaven is not a job for which we apply, or a reward given to those who follow the rules. Rather Heaven is a relationship with God and with his saints, a relationship which begins on earth.
When we allow Jesus to peer into our hearts, into our faith, what do we see in His light? Do we find ourselves seeking comfort in the shade, or hiding in darkness? How may we better reveal His light to others, and see others—and perhaps even our own selves—according to His light?