Remove The Veil

Thursday of Week 10 in Ordinary Time - Cycle I

2 Cor. 3:15-4; 1, 3-6 & Mt. 5:20-26

When Saint Paul spoke of the veil between Moses and the people he was referring to an incident which was well-known and understood by the Jews. Moses was very close to God, spending a great deal of time in the mountains praying, talking and listening to the message which God wished him to hand on to His people. When Moses came down from the mountain his face reflected God's glory and brightness. The people could not look at him, and so in order to avoid dazzling them he had to place a veil over his head.

Using this image Saint Paul turns to another kind of veil and another kind of brightness. It is a false, deceptive brilliance displayed by "the god of this world" by which, of course, he means the Devil who easily blinds unbelievers by tempting them to worship materialism and worldly values. He places a barrier between God and His people, to try to obstruct the true light. Paul sees his mission as an attempt to break through the veil of falsehood and indifference and show his converts the true light.

In their own way, the Pharisees, too, were placing obstacles between themselves and God, obeying the law in every detail and thinking themselves virtuous and very close to God, but they had drifted far away from Him. Jesus saw through the thin veneer of their virtue and warned His disciples not to be content with such a narrow and negative interpretation of the law. He gave an example. The Pharisees kept the bare command not to kill, but Jesus goes even further saying that it is not enough simply to refrain from killing. We must be forgiving towards others and always ready to make peace with them. We must control our anger. If we approach the altar, knowing that we are at enmity with someone, there is a barrier between ourselves and God and we must, first, break through that barrier by settling our differences.

Perhaps we each have a veil which prevents God's light from shining into our hearts and lighting up our lives. What barrier do we erect between God and ourselves? ls it materialism, pride, indifference to the Gospel, a longstanding grudge, selfishness, sloth, vanity? St. Paul has the answer when he says that these barriers will only be removed when we turn to the Lord.

Lord Jesus, take away the barriers that we have erected, between You and us.