The WORD in other words (2021) by Frt. Kevin James M. Pizarras, SVD (Portugal)
Just as the prayer recitation was finished, Luís, one of the Sunday catechesis pupils, politely interrupted me by raising his right hand with his eyes glued on my mobile phone. I was busy sending an important text message to the lectors for our monthly formation seminar that same day. Then, the scrutiny followed: “Frater, you’ve told us not to use our cellphone in class. Why are you using it now?” I had to apologize and explain the need and urgency of the matter patiently.
Our Lord, in today’s gospel, does not only launch a rhetorical question but also gives his audience a strongly-worded fraternal correction. By presenting the various parabolical images, the Lord deliberately provokes his disciples by touching on a highly sensitive, existential, and perennial issue in all aspects of human life – hypocrisy! To be a hypocrite is to pretend to be someone in words other than who he/she really is in deeds. A hypocritical person, therefore, says one thing but does another. There is no coherence between words and actions.
We are all perhaps guilty of hypocrisy. We tend to speak much and do little, ask others to “follow what I say, but not what I do,” and quickly judge the faults and failures of others without looking at one’s self. Jesus has come exactly to free us from hypocrisy, from what Pope Francis calls “the work of the devil,” and to personally show us that it is indeed possible to be real, coherent, and authentic in thoughts, words, and actions. We can start from the little things that we do every day – in school, at the workplace, or at home. On my list, I will surely include my Sunday catechesis class with Luís and his classmates.