29th Sunday Ordinary Time – Hypocrite? Me? Nah…
Hypocrisy is the fine line all good persons walk who profess any adherence to religious and spiritual values. Me, too. A hypocrite was an actor on stage who spoke behind a mask. That’s the root image.
This is one touchy area to talk about. Hypocrisy is something to admit rather than accuse. Accusing others merely lets me off the hook.
“But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites?” (Matthew 22:18)
Here’s how Matthew’s gospel describes each of us good persons, hypocrites:
Matthew 6:2 (NRSV) — 2 “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others.
Matthew 6:5 (NRSV) — 5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others.
Matthew 6:16 (NRSV) — 16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting.
Matthew 15:7–9 (NRSV) — 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said: 8 ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’ ”
Matthew 23:23 (NRSV) — 23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others.
Matthew 23:25 (NRSV) — 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
I want to be seen as good, upstanding, heroic, flawless, “doing fine,” beyond reproach. The admiration, applause, even adoration of others helps me feel secure and worthwhile. I’m tempted to clean the outside of the cup, never going into the inside of it. You?
What if THIS were our starting point as a Catholic community for the New Evangelization? Hmmm.