Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

At the start of the Gospel, there is a great chasm between the duplicity of the Pharisees and the honesty of Jesus. The Pharisees plot and conspire to trap Jesus up, but they begin their public questioning of Him by saying “we know you are a truthful man.” What’s more, Jesus knows that they are being dishonest as they speak to Him, and calls them out on their hypocrisy. But then He still answers their question, even in their sinfulness and dishonesty. Jesus calls them out for their sin, but still answers their question and shows them something of God.

Like the Pharisees, we have plenty of sins that Jesus can call us out on. Just last week, we were shown once again the extent of sexual harassment in our society. Before that, we were shown once again how violent we can be. Before that, we were reminded once again of the hateful rhetoric that we can throw at each other in public discourse. And the list of sins goes on. Generally speaking, any time we see a Gospel passage where Jesus squares off against the Pharisees, it will be more helpful if we think of ourselves as being on the side of the Pharisees, even if (or perhaps especially if) we think that Jesus is right. But this still gives us hope.

We have hope because Jesus never gave up on the Pharisees. St. Paul was a Pharisee, and became one of the greatest apostles. Jesus sees the Pharisees today, and does not give up on them. He will tell them when their questions are dishonest and in bad faith, but He will never begrudge them an answer. Likewise, Jesus will always speak with us. Jesus does not come to us because we are so magnificently good, but because we are so desperately needing help. And Jesus will never give up on us. Jesus will come to us and speak with us, even as He points out our sins. And so even when we are behaving just like the Pharisees, we still have hope.

October 22nd, 2017