Wednesday 29th August, 2012
Beheading of St John the Baptist. 2 Thessalonians 3:6–10, 16–18. Happy are those who fear the Lord—Ps 127(128):1–2, 4–5. Matthew 23:27–32.
Readings: Text |
‘You are the children of those who murdered the prophets.’
Roadside tombs in Jesus’ day were painted white lest one should become ritually impure by inadvertently touching them and thereby be ineligible to celebrate the great feasts. It is not the multitude of such laws that Jesus denigrates but the hypocritical attitude that would equate strict observance of them with virtue and, at the same time, would justify the rejection and persecution of God’s prophets (like John the Baptist) calling for repentance.
Jesus did not say, ‘Blessed are they who give every appearance of keeping all the rules’ but ‘Blessed are the pure of heart’. A better guide than the example of the scribes and Pharisees is this prayer of Socrates, ‘Give me beauty in the inward soul; and may the outward and inward person be as one.’