October 15, 2019

Memorial of Saint Teresa of Avila

“After Jesus had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home.” How often we read of Jesus dining with others. Many of those meals were controversial, with Jesus being accused of eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners. Here he is accused of not washing before the meal. This ritual, incidentally, is not found in the Bible, but was a tradition for the Pharisees.

Jesus’ counter accusation is that the Pharisees are more concerned about externals than they are about purging their own hearts of all extortion and wickedness. It is easy for us to think of the Pharisees as hypocrites, but perhaps we should focus our disdain on ourselves. We good church-going Catholics are perhaps the closest examples we have today of the ancient Pharisees. They were very observant, and so are we.

The problem with this is that we can put more emphasis on external observances and neglect that inner righteousness that leads us to live lives of mercy and concern for others. Jesus brings four charges against us today: externalism, legalism, religious ostentation, and hypocrisy. These are at bottom all one. Jesus speaks of giving alms—not so that we might be seen—but out of a deep concern for others.

At Mass we should be reminded of the one commandment Jesus left us at the Last Supper: “love one another as I have loved you.” It is also there that we come to realize that Jesus himself is the perfect model of a life lived not for himself, but for others. That is the example he gives us and strengthens us to imitate in our own lives. To do any less is not to live as one of his disciples.

Do I merit the accusation which Jesus addressed against the Scribes and the Pharisees?

Let Us Pray:

O Jesus, help me to purify my heart so that it may reflect your own goodness and concern for others. May I always strive to imitate you in all that I do.


Daily Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)


About Paul J. Bernier, SSS

Blessed Sacrament Father Paul J. Bernier served for many years as the editor of Emmanuel. He is a popular writer, preacher, and director of retreats. Among his many published works is Ministry in the Church: A Historical and Pastoral Approach, Second Edition, published by Orbis Books in 2015. His most recent book is A Eucharistic Spirituality: Inspired by Saint Peter Julian Eymard – Apostle of the Eucharist, which he co-authored with Jim Brown.