Woe to you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You do not forget the mint, anise and cumin seeds when you demand the tenth of everything; but then, you forget what is most fundamental in the law: justice, mercy and faith! You should have done these things without neglecting the others. Blind guides! You strain out a mosquito, but swallow a camel.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You ﬁll the plate and the cup, with theft and violence, and then pronounce a blessing over them. Blind Pharisee! Purify the inside ﬁrst, then the outside, too, will be puriﬁed.
Why is legalism so tempting? In today’s gospel reading Jesus provides the answer to that question: legalism is tempting because it presents the easy way out of our moral obligations. This is made abundantly clear in the first example he gives. For it is obviously far easier to pay tithes on mint and herbs and seeds than to concern oneself about the more important areas of justice, mercy, good faith. Legal-advantage as a bonus that it gives the nice feeling of being obedient to God, since the legalist can boast of having indeed fulfilled the law down to its smallest details!
On the other hand, why is hypocrisy so tempting? It is because trying to be good is far more demanding than merely looking good. What we are in the sight of other people is easy to fake; but we cannot fool God.
How many actions may we perform in one single day that people may think well of us? And how many actions do we perform only for God, when no one is watching?
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