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Denunciation of the Pharisees

After Jesus had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil.

You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.”

The general complaint is that the Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside there is filth of extortion and greed. In the language of 11:33-36, they are dark inside; they have not taken in light. In mentioning “plunder,” Jesus seems to have in mind the leadership’s use of resources (cf Mt 23:16-22; Lk 20:45-47), while moral integrity is the issue in his reference to “evil.” His rebuke echoes the prophets (cf Is 1:10-17; 58:4-8; Am 5:21-24; Mi 6:6-8), whose call for integrity in relating to those around them serves as the basis for Jesus’ reproof. He is committed to challenging these people who claim to represent God and his ways. Jesus raises a question. Did not God create both the inside and the outside? The Greek particle ouk that begins this sentence indicates that a positive answer is anticipated. That is why he calls them “fools” even before he raises the question. Using a metaphor and common Jewish practice, Jesus calls on them to give from the heart. This means that a person should attend to his motivation, as when the person from the goodness of his heart performs the venerated act of giving alms to the poor.

Almsgiving is an honorable religious act. In doing so, the inner life will be clean.

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord 2016,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: books@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.