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Home » Daily Gospel, Daily Readings, New Testament Writers

Of Gnats and Camels

Submitted by on Tuesday, 23 August 2011One Comment

Today’s Readings

  • Reading I:  1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
  • Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 139
  • Gospel Reading:  Matthew 23:23-26

Paul in Thessalonica

Read this article about the background of Paul’s thanksgiving for the Thessalonians

The Denunciation of the Pharisees II


The denunciation of the Pharisees continue with the 3rd and 4th woes. The "weightier matters of the Law" are the essentials of Mosaic observance. Jesus names them: "judgment", "mercy" and "faith". "Judgment" here is the Greek krisis not krima. The latter is related to the judge and his authority; the other is the product of his action: the restoration or imposition of justice. In the Beatitudes, Jesus calls "blessed" those who hunger and thirst for justice because they will be satisfied in God’s reign.

We have seen how Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6 in his debates with the Pharisees: "It is mercy I want, not sacrifice." Thus, Jesus underlines the spirit of the Law and not the letter. Legalism can be used to mask a piety that is superficial.

The last "essential" that Jesus names is the Greek "pistis" which we normally translate "faith". But it also means "fidelity". Fidelity to Mosaic observance does not do away with justice and mercy; in fact, it requires the other two.

Because the essentials are sacrificed even in matters of food and drink, it is like the Pharisees strain a gnat but swallow a camel. Their piety is so external that they do not pay attention to what is inside their hearts. Jesus already told his disciples that impurity is not what enters through the mouth and goes out into the toilet; impurity is what comes out from the heart.

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
View in: NAB NIV KJV Vulg Greek
1For yourselves know, brethren, our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:
2But having suffered many things before, and been shamefully treated (as you know) at Philippi, we had confidence in our God, to speak unto you the gospel of God in much carefulness.
3For our exhortation was not of error, nor of uncleanness, nor in deceit:
4But as we were approved by God that the gospel should be committed to us: even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God, who proveth our hearts.
5For neither have we used, at any time, the speech of flattery, as you know; nor taken an occasion of covetousness, God is witness:
6Nor sought we glory of men, neither of you, nor of others.
7Whereas we might have been burdensome to you, as the apostles of Christ: but we became little ones in the midst of you, as if a nurse should cherish her children:
8So desirous of you, we would gladly impart unto you not only the gospel of God, but also our own souls: because you were become most dear unto us.
Matthew 23:23-26
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
23Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you tithe mint, and anise, and cummin, and have left the weightier things of the law; judgment, and mercy, and faith. These things you ought to have done, and not to leave those undone.
24Blind guides, who strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel.
25Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you make clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but within you are full of rapine and uncleanness.
26Thou blind Pharisee, first make clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, that the outside may become clean.
Hosea 6:6
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
6For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice: and the knowledge of God more than holocausts.

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