In today’s Gospel the Lord condemns a series of hypocritical practices by the Pharisees that can also help us take stock of our relationship with him and the fulfillment of our Christian obligations. The Pharisees were entrusted with doctrinal authority, hence the reference to keys. They we supposed to share that teaching and defend it in order to help people enter Heaven. Yet they didn’t and not only blocked themselves from it, but those they were supposed to teach as well. The world needs the Gospel and it needs us to share the Gospel. If we don’t we are hindering people instead of helping them get to Heaven. If we’re not living our faith well, those who look up to us will only have our bad example to follow; the Gospel can just be taught, it must also be lived.
Secondly, Our Lord condemns their way of making oaths. The Pharisees are placing value on the items themselves (gold, the worth of a gift), not on the fact that they are something sacred through being offered to God in the Temple. What gives them worth should not be that they have monetary value, but that they have been given to God. In other Gospel accounts Our Lord condemns making oaths of this type at all, but the lesson for us today is how easily we can swear by God on vain things and in a way that shows no recognition on our part that we are invoking someone. How many “Oh my God’s” do we hear in conversations by people who have little to now relationship with God? We have to always be aware of who we are invoking and why.
Let’s show Our Lord what he means to us by sharing his Gospel, imitating his example, and always have his name on our lips with love.
Readings: 2 Thessalonians 1:1–5, 11–12; Psalm 96:1–5; Matthew 23:13–22. See also 28th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday.