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Homily for the 31st Sunday: Year A


Malachi 1:14b-2:2b. 8-10

1 Thessalonians 2:7-9.13

Matthew 23:1-12


Beloved in Christ, Jesus today addresses the problem of religious hypocrisy and reminds us that it is not only the problem of the clergy but for all Christians. He condemns the huge gap between what we are and what we ought to be. All of us are like white washed tombs that look beautiful outside but full of rot inside. (cf Matthew 23:17)

Also, Jesus comes in hard on the leaders and condemns them for thinking religiosity is an exhibition and warns them against parading their good deeds before men. (Matthew 6:1-6) Do not look for social approval for it is one reason why many Christians are hypocrites – they think what matters is how people or society sees them.

To emphasize the importance of listening and acting on the word of God, Malachi says “if you do not listen, I will send a curse upon you and of your blessing I will make a curse”. For Malachi, the priest or leaders should not hide the truth but always proclaim it irrespective of their own struggles with the truth. This is echoed by Jesus when He said the Pharisees occupy the seat of Moses, so listen to them but don’t use their lives as your excuse to stay unrepentant. Why? Because what they say, they don’t practise. (Matthew 23:3)

Beloved, the responsibility of your salvation rests on you. “Be sure that you first preach by the way you live. If you do not, people will notice that you say one thing, but live otherwise, and your words will bring only cynical laughter and a derisive shake of the head.” (Saint Charles Borromeo) . Your salvation is not because of what someone has done but what you have done in response to God’s invitation of love. Let us stop pretending and see ourselves as who we are before God, whether laity or clergy and humbly confess our sins and ask God for forgiveness.

After all, you’re not saved by criticizing your neighbour, but by living out the word of God in your life. The time you spend to highlight the weakness of your neighbour, do well to use that time to work on your weakness.

Beloved, resolve today that instead of criticizing your priests you’ll pray for them that after they have preached eloquently to you they themselves will not lose heaven because of their weaknesses and shortcomings. (1 Cor. 9:27) and that they should not hide the truth from you because of their own weakness and struggles.

Finally, remember the difference between the saints and the sinner is that the saint is always making an effort (trying) whiles the sinner is the one who has stopped and given up.

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