Grace to you!
Our reflection today will focus on overcoming hypocrisy.
The entire chapter of the Gospel of Matthew 23 was devoted to how Jesus denounced hypocrisy. Though the Lord was talking to the Scribes and Pharisees of his time, his teachings are equally relevant to us.
Hypocrisy is a pattern of life that lives the lie. I call it a behavioral lie in which our actions, more often than not, aren’t consistent with our words. In simple, more general moral terms, it’s a lack of integrity of character. I guess every person admires integrity. It’s a desirable quality.
A non-hypocritical life does not necessarily mean the person is a saint or holy. No one is perfect or holy except God, as Scripture teaches us (I Sam 2:2). “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). Lent would be meaningless if we were perfect people; those who have not fallen short of divine expectations.
Instead, a non-hypocritical life is the one that is truthful about our true self and is humbly asking for the grace of renewal. At the root of it is humble honesty as opposed to willful lies of deceit or self-righteousness.
Because we recognize how much we need the grace of God, it shapes the way we come across, not as holier-than-thou or as flat-out liars. Humility and sincerity make us heaven’s favorites.
Hypocrisy is one of the greatest scandals of our time. We shall be leading a rich Lenten season if we look inward, inside our hearts and souls, and ask how truthful we are about our weaknesses, and how open we are about God’s transforming regeneration. Let us not be distracted by externalism and social activism, which have the tendency to make us lose sight of necessary self-examination and introspection. Activism could be an obstacle to true self-discovery.
This is one of the reasons I love contemplation, the Catholic practice of examination of conscience, as well as confession.
Contemplation enables us to look inward and have a glimpse of how God sees us, amidst the voices that often sing our praises outside, when actually we are not as it seems.
Examination of conscience leads us to fine details of our thoughts, words and actions within a record time and reveals, by the Spirit of God, where our need is for mercy and strengthening.
Confession does the same thing, in an even deeper way, because it enables us to look at our nakedness in the light of God’s holiness and mercy. Once, a friend who was avoiding going to Confession told me she had a different feeling when she finally went. It was like “I was completely stripped naked; there was no hiding place. It made me really humble,” she said.
So, there could be three ways (CEC) to humbling introspection: Contemplation, Examination of Conscience and Confession; and two ways (2H) to replacing hypocrisy – Humility and Honesty.
May we try to apply these CEC and HH in our Lenten journey. Amen
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Tuesday, Lent, Weekday Week 2: Is. 1:10,16-20; Mt. 23:1-12]
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.