In the Gospel reading today from Matthew 23, Jesus pronounces “woes” on the scribes and Pharisees. Seems they were leading people astray. He refers to them as “blind guides.” Jesus had many strong words for the religious leaders of the time. They had a great responsibility, and they were falling woefully short. This always reminds me of the need for us to pray fervently for our leaders, our bishops and priests. They are fallen men, and are not immune from going down a wrong path. Let us pray that our leaders will not follow the same path as the scribes and Pharisees.
For the first reading today, we begin St. Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. In it he writes, “For our Gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.” The Gospel must be delivered not in word alone.
Interestingly, this is the “golden thread” that runs through the two readings today. The scribes and Pharisees were all about preaching things to the people, but had no intention of holding themselves to the same standards. Their “gospel” was all lip service. St. Paul knew that this could not be the case for Christians. Our delivery of the Gospel must also be “in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.” The Gospel: Believe it. Preach it. Live it.
Father, help us to bring the Gospel to others, not in word alone, but in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction. Amen.