In today’s Gospel Our Lord reminds us that good things start from within and work their way out. There is a difference between maintaining appearances and living the truth. In today’s First Reading Paul touches upon the fact that when things go wrong it is because something inside has gone wrong: everyone has an interior opportunity, either through seeking truth and good or welcoming in faith God’s revelation, of knowing the truth and doing good. When they do evil instead they ignore those encouraging voices and eventually try to convince themselves that the evil they are doing is good. No matter how much we mess up our consciences we always try to do what we think to be good: the question is whether it is truly good or not. Our actions reflect the good or evil that is inside of us. When we do good, it edifies others, but they have to interiorize it and make it their good as well–then our actions will also reflect that good. When we do evil we cast a shadow over this struggle in the hearts of everyone to see what’s truly good and act upon it: bad examples cloud our judgment of good and evil.
Jesus teaches us to not judge unless we want to be judged (see Matthew 7:1 and Luke 6:37). In today’s Gospel we see him applying that teaching. The Pharisee who invited him to dine thinks a ritual washing of hands is required to be good. Our Lord shows him that he’s turned a secondary religious custom into a way of judging and condemning others. The Pharisees never really understood the purpose of ritual washing: for them it was a sort of whitewash that allowed them to justify whatever else they did and consider themselves superior to others. They never stopped to think that maybe just because somebody doesn’t agree with their religious practices and opinion it doesn’t mean that person is evil.
Every person is on a quest for truth and goodness in their heart: we need to help them find it, just as Jesus was trying to help the Pharisee today. Sometimes that means saying clearly, as Jesus did, that something they’re doing is wrong–we’re called to help each other, not work out everything on our own. Let’s make an effort today to share the goodness and truth that others have shared with us, and not get hung up on secondary things that can cloud the true charity we’re expected to live.
Readings: Romans 1:16–25; Psalm 19:2–5; Luke 11:37–41.