The Gospel in Tuesday’s Mass pulled no punches. Jesus is talking to the crowds and His disciples. He tells them that whatever the Scribes and Pharisees tell them to do, they should do. Observe and practice whatever they tell you, for they are speaking from the words of Moses. He goes on and cautions them, however, don’t do what they do”. For what they preach, they do not practice.

This is the same Jesus who earlier was trying to point out to these same Scribes and the Pharisees their evil ways. He did this through parables, through examples. He did whatever He could to teach them and gently but firmly wake them up. The timeframe is shortly before the Passover and His death. Jesus cannot try to convince them anymore. Time is running out. Time is of the essence. Now all of His efforts must be directed at the people, the followers of the Judaic Law. He wants to point out to them that the words (the 10 Commandments) handed down by Moses should, and must, still be observed. The words spoken by the Scribes and Pharisees are true. But these same leaders do not observe the very things they preach. Don’t do what they do, don’t imitate their actions.

And today, don’t look around you, to see who falls into that category. Don’t look to see which priests, preachers, or leaders don’t seem to practice what they preach. Don’t be scandalized when people come up short in your estimation, for we are all alike. Look within. We know what we should do. We know what is expected of us. We feel, down deep within us, the tug at our hearts when we know we are really not moving in the direction we should be. And yet, we will be the first to say what others should and should not do. We will be the first to observe that, that person needs a haircut. She is looking for trouble. They should be doing this or that. They need to be more concerned about others. Whoa!!! Stop right there. How do we know what others are about? How do we know what they should do? How did we come to this knowledge of their motives, their limitations?  The Pharisees were very good at observing the faults and limitations of others. And so, Jesus tells them and us, not to be like the Pharisees.

It is difficult to assess ourselves. In order to do that, we have to be observant of our actions, and truly critical of our motives. Excuses for what we do, must be non-existent. In the glare of a bright light (our earnest seeking of God’s truths), that is the only way we can ascertain what our true motives are. And yet, after all this, the best that we can come up with is, “I am a sinner, Lord”. For in that moment of recognition, of affirmation, we lay ourselves bare, stripped of all pretenses. It is at that precise moment, that the only thing we have is our trust in God.

Trust in God, that seems like such an easy solution. But, is it? To trust Him and say, “You are in charge and I accept that”, that is no small feat. But that is exactly what God is looking for in us. He doesn’t want to hear how clever we are, nor, how much wealth we have, nor how many electronic trinkets we have. Our lives of serving others’ needs, of giving people our time, of praying for those who are suffering, these are what God is looking for in His people, His creations. If we recognize the brotherhood that we share with everyone, and live accordingly, then we are doing not what someone tells us to do, but what God wants us to do.