No One Is Righteous
- Reading I: Romans 2:1-11
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 62
- Gospel Reading: Luke 11:42-46
Do Not Judge
Before Paul turns to the subject of Jews and the Law, he turns to all righteous-feeling-men who think that the pagans will surely get what they deserve. Remember that the thesis of Paul is that no one, even if he should appear righteous, can escape God’s wrath if not by faith in Christ. At the beginning of the body of his letter, Paul cited a quote from Zechariah that would set the tone for Paul’s Gospel: "the righteous man shall live by faith." In the context of Zechariah’s book, that phrase means that the just which at the moment look as if they are disadvantaged in their way of life while the wicked prosper, will in the end survive the purification of the last days because of their continued faith (trust) in God. In Paul, that phrase means that no one is really righteous unless one receives that righteousness by faith in Christ. The present selection then is addressed those who think that they are righteous, or at least better than the pagans addressed previously. It is a transitional paragraph that prepares the audience for what Paul will say about the Jews and their adherence to the Law of Moses.
The responsorial psalm (Psalm LXII) is a prayer of trust in God who is "Rock" and "Salvation".
Prophetic woes are not so much pronouncements of doom as laments raised over a foreseen disaster. A woe is not a curse. But one utters a woe because of a curse that is seen as inevitable. Like the prophets of old, Jesus sees the consequences of hypocrisy and injustice about to fall upon the religious leaders of his time. But in difference with those prophets, he does not name the consequences (cf. Isaiah 5:8-15.18-24; Jeremiah 48:1-2; HHosea 7:13; Habakkuk 2:6-19).
Jesus cites the Pharisees for their neglect of the demands of justice and love (42) and their vanity. . (43). With the scribes, the Pharisees are named as sepulchres that are hidden from view, and therefore are occassions of uncleanliness for those who come into contact with them. The expression "whitewashed sepulchres" continues the idea of "clean outside but unclean inside." Instead of enabling people to worship God, they themselves become occassions for exclusion in a very insidious way. They are likened to sepulchres that are placed where people can walk over them, that is, where people can be rendered unclean by them without knowing it. The experts of the Law are cited (these perhaps included both scribes and Pharisees) next on account of their casuistry: instead of helping, they are actually adding more burdens; instead of allowing more people to observe the law, they make observance more difficult.
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