“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.”
One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Whenever Jesus gets stern, I find myself paying close attention, as is true today when he scolds the prideful Pharisees and overbearing lawyers.
While we may not be tithing mint, rue and herbs, it’s still easy to get caught up in rules, and online giving or weekly envelopes. When we obsess over prerequisites to the Sacraments, or concentrate on our (or others’) unworthiness to be in relationship with God, we lose focus.
Jesus says his burden is light and easy, and promises rest for the weary (Mt 11:28-30). Our faith is not about how much we tithe, how many committees we lead, or how well we fit the ideal Christian mold. Rather, it’s about humbly learning to love and be loved. It’s about finding rest in Jesus, and helping others to do the same.
What are the unnecessary burdens I place on myself or others, hindering relationship with God?
—Amy Ketner is the Coordinator of Hispanic/Latino Ministry at St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor, MI.
Thank you, God, for grounding us in love. Help us to discern the areas in our life where we are motivated by pride, rather than by justice and compassion. Give us the courage to speak up, as Jesus did, when we witness others placing too heavy a load on our neighbors.
—Amy KetnerPlease share the Good Word with your friends!