Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Matthew (23: 1-12) in which Jesus speaks to the crowds and His disciples with a warning against hypocrisy.

Fr Paul explains that this Gospel says the most cutting of things about the scribes and the Pharisees. In fact, this Gospel introduces a seven-fold curse on them. The Pharisees as we know are the ones who are the most and exact followers of what is written in the law of Moses. The scribes are lawyers, who the Pharisees would then call on and turn to if a dispute occurred about the law. Often their attention to detail and their fussiness made them lose sight of the real purpose of the law. Jesus was prepared to meet them and debate them on their own turf.

Fr Paul says that we need to remember that the Pharisees took no part in the condemnation and death of Jesus. His opponents in Jerusalem were the Sadducees, arguing over legal observants is just part of the Jewish way of life even to this day. Fr Paul says the Gospel writer today is simply concerned about the status of religious leaders and states the danger of turning into little gods because of that status.

As we continue our Lenten Journey, Fr Paul suggests that we might reflect on this sentence from the Gospel “the greatest among you must be your servant”.