O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
whose steadfast love never ceases
and whose mercies never come to an end:
grant us the grace to trust you
and to receive the gifts of your love
new every morning,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
The heavens are telling the glory of God
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
One day pours out its song to another
and one night unfolds knowledge to another.
They have neither speech nor language
and their voices are not heard,
Yet their sound has gone out into all lands
and their words to the ends of the world.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you.’
Today’s reading invites us to examine the motivations that lie behind our words and actions. Are we driven by pure ambition and a craving for social esteem, or do we spend every moment of every day trying to live up to Christ’s calling in our lives?
Jesus was invited to dine with a Pharisee, a member of the Jewish elite that prided itself on its adherence to every letter of the religious laws they held so dear. Jesus clearly accepted the invitation, even though it was the Pharisees who were constantly trying to find fault with his teaching and his actions. But, as the meal began Jesus broke one of the precious Pharisaic rules: he failed to take part in the ritual ablutions that were supposed to precede every meal. We are not specifically told whether the host mentioned this faux pas or whether Jesus felt the atmosphere. Whatever the circumstances, Jesus knew that he was being criticized and judged.
We often behave in the same way as the Pharisee. We are intolerant of the way others live their lives. We compare people with the standards we impose upon ourselves. Sometimes we look down on others because we perceive their way of life to be less fastidious and ‘upright’ than ours. At other times we look down on others because we consider them to be over-fussy and bogged down in details with which we cannot be bothered. Whichever way we look at it, we so often behave just like the Pharisee in today’s reading.
Jesus’ warning is clear. Jesus tells us that we should not judge others. As we read elsewhere in the gospels, Jesus teaches that judgement belongs to God alone, and we should not forget that we, in our time, will come before our heavenly judge, just like everyone else! Jesus tells us to stop focusing on outward appearance and concentrate on being of sound heart and mind. Rather than craving the recognition of others for our ‘good works’ we should be living a life that demonstrates our faith and our total commitment to that faith.
Let us pray that we might find the strength and the peace of mind that will enable us to turn from polishing up our outward appearance in order that we might become the faithful and true disciples we are called to be. Let us set aside our human instinct to judge others and remember that we ourselves will be judged. Let us pray that we might be seen as having followed God’s path rather than that which we lay for ourselves.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray that Christ may be seen in the life of the Church.
You have called us into the family of those who are the children of God. May our love for our brothers and sisters be strengthened by your grace.
You have called us to be a temple where the Holy Spirit can dwell. Give us clean hands and pure hearts, so that our lives will reflect your holiness.
You have called us to be a light to the world, so that those in darkness come to you. May our lives shine as a witness to the saving grace you have given for all.
You have called us to be members of your body, so that when one suffers, all suffer together. We ask for your comfort and healing power to bring hope to those in distress.
You have called us to be the Bride, where you, Lord, are the Bridegroom. Prepare us for the wedding feast, where we will be united with you for ever.
Prayer for the week
Give peace in our time, O Lord:
peace and reconciliation among the nations;
peace and unity within the churches;
peace and harmony in our communities and homes;
peace and love in all our hearts;
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.