First reading Isaiah 1:10,16-20

Cease to do evil; learn to do good

Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the command of our God,
you people of Gomorrah.
‘Wash, make yourselves clean.
Take your wrong-doing out of my sight.
Cease to do evil.
Learn to do good,
search for justice,
help the oppressed,
be just to the orphan,
plead for the widow.
‘Come now, let us talk this over,
says the Lord.
Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
‘If you are willing to obey,
you shall eat the good things of the earth.
But if you persist in rebellion,
the sword shall eat you instead.’
 

Responsorial Psalm 49(50):8-9,16-17,21,23

I will show God’s salvation to the upright.
 
‘I find no fault with your sacrifices,
  your offerings are always before me.
I do not ask more bullocks from your farms,
  nor goats from among your herds.
 
‘But how can you recite my commandments
  and take my covenant on your lips,
you who despise my law
  and throw my words to the winds,
 
‘You do this, and should I keep silence?
  Do you think that I am like you?
A sacrifice of thanksgiving honours me
  and I will show God’s salvation to the upright.’
 

Gospel Matthew 23:1-12

They do not practise what they preach

Addressing the people and his disciples Jesus said, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practise what they preach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader phylacteries and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.
  ‘You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one master, and you are all brothers. You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.’
 
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Living the law of love

Jesus spoke strongly towards the Pharisees and the Scribes because they manipulated the Law of God by focusing on man-made rules and missing the spirit of the commandments, which was to love God and love neighbour. They had full knowledge of their religion, but their lives were far from it. Jesus warns us not to fall into the same pit.
 
Our Christian faith is not about having intellectual knowledge but putting it into practice. Only when we try to live the spirit of Jesus’ teachings will we acquire His attitude of humility and not seek honour or recognition from those around us. Faith cannot remain only in the mind. We cannot think that by knowing the teachings, we are living them already. Like the Pharisees, we may be far away from it. Let us listen to Jesus and learn how to live the law of love from Him.
 
Reflective question:
What is Jesus teaching me through this gospel?
 
Acknowledgment: Reflections are based on “Prayer for Living: The Word of God for Daily Prayer Year B” by Sr Maria Jose FMVD.