Jesus always spoke out against the ways of the Pharisees, the religious leaders of His time, and consequently they wanted Him dead. When reading stories in the Gospel, it is easy to see the behavior of the Pharisees was wrong, yet they were blind to their evil actions. As history continued, the term “Pharisees” is no longer used, but the practices and beliefs upheld by the Pharisees remain. We are still sinners and are bound to fall into similar traps just as the Pharisees did.
“Although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened. While claiming to be wise, they became fools.” Romans 1:21-23
The Pharisees were bound by the traditions and rituals of their religion. As humans, we can accept the lie that if we follow the laws, we are guaranteed entrance into the kingdom of Heaven. The Pharisees exemplified the rules regarding eating only clean food and other practical teachings like that, but today we follow different rules. These rules are meant to keep us wholly devoted to our Lord; however, it is possible to put merely the practice of these before the true worship of God Himself.
How often do we lose sight of Christ when focusing on getting to confession once a month, or remembering the pattern of a rosary instead of actually paying attention to the words? The truth is that what Jesus desires is our love and devotion. The sacraments and prayers are gifts to help us, but they are not meant to replace Jesus Christ and His presence in our lives.
“The one who is righteous by faith will live.” Romans 1:17
One thought on “The New Pharisees”
Our pastor told us not too long ago that the 1 hour we spend in church fulfilling our Sunday obligation at Mass really is not significant unless we practice our faith all those remaining hours in the week, month, year, etc. He added that his job as a priest was to prepare all of us to go out and share the presence of the Lord with everyone we met after we left the church building. Although the liturgy of the Mass is inspiring and can be uplifting, confession can provide a sense of lightness of being afterwards, and the rosary is a meaningful prayer, unless we truly involve our faith in all these rituals, they can easily become meaningless. None of us wants to consider ourselves Pharisees, and yet if all prayers turn into simply routines, then we are no better than they were. Thank you for this reminder!