Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Matthew (23: 23-26) in which Jesus takes the Scribes and Pharisees to task over neglecting weightier matters of the law—justice, mercy and good faith.
Fr Paul says, today, we hear Jesus criticise the Scribes and Pharisees, basically, because they have become obsessed with every little detail, and they have missed the bigger picture. This is the meaning of what Jesus says in the Gospel – that one minute they are straining out gnats and the next trying to swallow camels. The Scribes and the Pharisees also had a problem with appearances. Yes, it looks good on the outside but what about the mess on the inside.
So, the Scribes and the Pharisees sit on their self-centred pedestals. Pedestals they created themselves. They are just not real. They do not understand what life is about.
Fr Paul notes, it is three times now that the writer of Matthew insists that what God wants is not the ritual of sacrifice and all the bits and pieces that go with it. What God wants is a genuine openness and a gift of oneself.