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Jesus and the Pharisees

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Luke 11:47–52 • St Teresa of Avila

Woe to you Pharisees

Make no mistake and be under no illusion, the Pharisees and Jesus were on a collision course and it was never going to be pretty — the gloves were off, the hostility was out in the open.  Jesus did not hold back but called them to account for the blood of the prophets from Abel, the son of Adam and Eve (Gen. 4), to Zechariah, son of Jehoiada, the chief priest during the reign of Kingjoash of Judah (837–800 BC), who was killed in the temple when he tried to call the nation back to true worship (see 2 Chron. 24:17–22).  Jesus’s fate was sealed, his path to the cross certain, as the religious establishment of the day was rocked to its very core by his exposure of their hypocrisy.

The Pharisees built tombs for the prophets their forefathers had persecuted and martyred; they claimed to speak for God but resisted the words. spoken by the prophets. Injesus we see the culmination of the ministry of every prophet of old. Israel’s prophets spoke about Christ and always pointed to Christ. Now someone greater than the prophets, the Christ, was among them, and so began a profound resistance which would culminate in the plot to kill him.  Jesus condemned the Pharisees because their hearts had become hard and resistant to God’s plan of salvation. They had become closed to the work of God in their midst and in their lives.

True, we might not kill the prophets but we can kill the work of God by being hard and resistant to what the Spirit is doing in our lives and in our Church. The Spirit is at work today in many individuals and movements or streams, such as the Charismatic movement, the Neocathechumenate, Opus Dei, Focolare, the MaltFriscans, Youth 2000 and, last but not least, the sincere young people in our parishes who are ever eager to sing at Mass, play musical instruments and participate in the life of the Church. We must guard our hearts against our own prejudice and preferences – the Spirit blows where the Spirit wills, and we must learn to celebrate his work in our midst and not undermine it or even kill it.

Heavenly Father, by your grace may we resist and overcome ways of thinking which limit the work of the Spirit, and may we rejoice in what you are doing in the Church today.

Ephesians 1:1–10 • Psalm 97(98) • Luke 11:47–54

Chris

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