In today’s First Reading Paul reminds us that the Law (the Mosaic Law observed by the Jews) and the prophets gave witness to what everyone after the Fall of Adam and Eve needed in order to be righteous in the eyes of God: God’s grace, won by the blood of Christ. To receive that grace we must believe in Christ and receive Baptism, and we become and remain “righteous” through living a life of grace. He was making this point because there were those who believed that the works of Mosaic Law were enough, but, as we know, that would have restricted salvation to the Jews as God’s chosen people. Faith in Christ and Baptism are what are needed, whether observant Jew or uninitiated Gentile, in order to being a life of grace.
In today’s Gospel Our Lord is criticizing the Pharisees and scribes because they are putting a muzzle on the witness that the Law and the prophets were meant to give as to how we can truly be righteous in the eyes of God. The Pharisees are criticized for building monuments to the very prophets that their predecessors killed: what they’re trying to present as an honorable acknowledgement of the prophets Jesus reveals as testifying to the fact that not only did they not listen to the prophets’ message, but silenced it by killing them. The scribes fared no better: they were the experts in the Law, and the Law was meant to give witness to God and to Christ, but they did not pay attention to that witness, nor did they share it with the Jews who sought the knowledge to be considered righteous in the eyes of God. As a result of Jesus’ criticism the Pharisees and scribes became an obstacle to Christ because they didn’t have faith in him, just as they became an obstacle to the prophets before him.
We can run the same of risk of not sharing the message or silencing it. It happens when Our Lord becomes simply a historical figure commemorated by a crucifix or cross on a wall and not the Lord of our life and our history who walks with us even today through prayer and the sacraments. We can muzzle the message of faith if we don’t let it transform our lives and share it with others, not only through our words, but through our example of Christian living. Let’s take off any muzzle that we make have placed on the Word in our lives today so that we can open the path to becoming and helping others to become righteous in the eyes of God.
Readings: Romans 3:21–30; Psalm 130:1b–6b; Luke 11:47–54.