Carry the gospel with you
The Lord said: “Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb, but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God. These you should have done, without overlooking the others. Woe to you Pharisees! You love the seat of honor in synagogues and greetings in marketplaces. Woe to you! You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk.”
Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply, “Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: The Pharisees have gotten a bad rap as history has looked backward in the light of the gospels. In fact, in many ways, the Pharisees were religious innovators whose reforms saved Judaism from annihilation when the Romans destroyed the temple and sent Israel into a worldwide diaspora. Many Pharisees were very decent, godly human beings. When Jesus inveighs against the Pharisees in the gospel, he does not condemn a class but a certain group with a certain attitude: it is an attitude that is altogether too human, and one that can afflict any of us, Catholic, other Christian, or non-Christian. It is an attitude that finds comfort in strict adherence to the rules but does not attend to the love of God and neighbor. It is an attitude that places obligations on others that we ourselves don’t intend to bear. Hypocrisy is the vice the Lord most detested and mercy, the one the Lord most extolled.
Saint of the day: Edward the Confessor was the son of King Ethelred II and Queen Emma and the half-brother to King Edmund Ironside and King Hardicanute. When his father was unseated by Danish invasion, Edward and his brother were sent to Denmark to be quietly killed, but the officer in charge took pity on the boys and sent them to Sweden. From there they went to the King of Hungary to be raised and educated. Edward’s interests were in things religious. When grown, the brothers moved to Normandy and waited their chance to return to England.
In 1035, Edward and Alfred tried to regain the crown of England, but they were turned back, Alfred was killed, and Edward returned to Normandy. He returned to England again in 1042, and was chosen king by acclamation, ascending the throne on April 3. Edward gained a reputation as just and worthy of the kingship, and the people of England supported him.
During his reign Edward repulsed invasion, helped restore the King of Scotland to his throne, remitted unjust taxes, and was noted for his generosity to the poor and strangers, and for his piety and love of God. He married to satisfy his people, but he and the queen remained chaste. Tradition claims he had the power to heal by touch. He built churches, including Westminster Abbey.