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Gospel Reflections » International

"More Conflict With The Pharisees"

February 9, 2011

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In yesterday’s reflection, we talked about the Pharisees; people who were so righteous, they became self-righteous. They felt they had no need of God’s mercy or forgiveness, for they performed well all that was required of them. They seem to have had a tendency to be devious too, as today’s Gospel relates. The Law of Moses, as enunciated in Deuteronomy, enjoined the Jewish community to honour and care for their aged parents. This was part of their written scripture. However, during Jesus’s time an oral convention had come into vogue, namely the use of the word qorban, ‘sacrifice’ as a formula for a sacred oath. A Jew therefore might say to his parents, “Anything of mine which could be used for your benefit is now set apart as a sacrifice for God.” Thus, says Jesus, you Pharisees use a bogus oath to nullify the demands of Scripture and to let you off your responsibility for caring for your aged parents. You pretend you are offering a sacrifice to God, but actually you are disobeying one of God’s commandments. In another place, Jesus firmly states that the love of God is love shown to one’s neighbour. And one’s neighbour is not someone related by kinship or geography. One’s neighbour is anyone who has need of help. No one has been more categorical than Jesus in this.
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