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Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

2 Thess. 2:1-3 & Mt. 23:23-26

Problems in their church prompted St Paul to write his second letter to the Thessalonians. Many members of it were preoccupied with the second coming of Jesus and certain self-styled experts in biblical prophecy were warning that the Day of the Lord was at hand. This stirred a lot of unease in the congregation. Some people were terrified because they did not feel prepared for the end. Others were so convinced that the end would be soon that they quit their jobs and abandoned their homes.

While advising them to live in readiness Paul insisted that such readiness was no cause for alarm. As long as they put their confidence in Christ, they would be ready when the Lord retuned. There is an important principle in this passage of scripture for us.

We are building our faith on shaky grounds whenever we put confidence in anything other than Christ. The Church is a very important institution in the divine economy which God uses to spread His word and to administer His sacraments. But the Church itself cannot save us from sin and death. The priesthood is a very important office in the family of God. Priests are called and trained to shepherd Christ’s flock. But the priesthood itself is not the foundation of faith and hope. For all their importance, the Church and the priesthood are human institutions. They derive their authority from the One Who established these human means of grace. The glory of our Lord Jesus Christ is the one true source of light and life.

Many Pharisees were devout men who did their best to follow God, but Jesus reproached them for losing sight of the heart of religion. They became so concerned with interpreting the Law and keeping it down to the smallest detail that they forgot it was only there to help people serve God and live holy lives.

Hypocrisy is a constant threat to our spiritual life, and the more we think we are growing spiritually, the worse it can become. What is important is whether we embrace the Gospel challenge to love God and our neighbour. The truth is that we are all sinners in great need of God’s mercy. Let us spend time every day in prayer, so that we may know God's forgiveness, and His love may be poured into our hearts. Let us try to cleanse our hearts and minds of sinful desires, so that we can live as God wants us to. Jesus reminds us that the essence of what God wants is simple, “to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God” (Mic. 6:8).

Lord Jesus, help us to remember that justice, mercy and faith are what matters. Renew and strengthen our hearts, so that we may be people who bring Your love to the world.

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