St. Paul led by example. He alludes to that in our first reading today from 1 Thessalonians 2. While he could have insisted that the believers take care of his needs while he preached and taught, he worked “night and day in order not to burden any of you.” He then thanks God that the Thessalonians received the word of God, “which is now at work in you who believe.”
In the Gospel reading from Matthew 23, Jesus finishes pronouncing His “woes” to the scribes and Pharisees. The first part of today’s reading is one that cuts right to the heart for me. Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.”
Do you ever feel like a pretender, a poser? Dare I say it – a Pharisee? I sure do. Much like Jesus described the scribes and Pharisees, I often put up a nice front. But inside I can be a seething volcano, filled with wicked, evil thoughts. I’m always thankful that people can’t read minds. But then I realize that God knows my every thought. Funny, isn’t it? While we can be whitewashed tombs and fool other people, God can see right through the facade. Perhaps the only silver lining is that I recognize the fact that I can often be a pretender. I pray that God will whitewash the inside as well as the outside.
Father, forgive us for being whitewashed tombs. Cleanse us, so that our shiny exterior will be only a reflection of your goodness inside of us. Amen.