The Gospel reading from the Mass for Tuesday of the 21st Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 23:23-26. 

Continuing His scathing warning to the Pharisees of the seven woes, in the fourth and fifth woes, Christ condemns their obsession with ritualistic rules while failing to love, their failure to grow in inner holiness and their prideful desire to be noticed as righteous.  “Woes” are a declaration of doom for those who break God’s covenant, curses that warn those guilty of evil of God’s coming judgment.  

The fourth woe focuses on the Pharisees’ confused obsession with keeping to the minute details of tithing while completely missing the essential need for “justice and mercy and faith.” The hypocritical Pharisees rigorously measured out their required 1/10th tithe of their harvest of small herbs (mint, dill cumin), absurdly believing that scrupulosity made them holy while failing to love; as Christ utters this woe, the Pharisees are scheming to murder Him! Christ humorously skewers the Pharisees’ foolish scrupulosity of straining beverages through cloth to strain out unclean gnats while swallowing a camel, the largest unclean animal. 

With the fifth woe, Christ indicts the Pharisees’ attempts to adhere to outer acts of piety (clean the outside of the cup) while evilly plotting in their hearts to steal (rapacity/greed, extortion).  

Awed by Jesus ChristDivine King, Christ denounces the Pharisees in strong terms, calling them hypocrites, blind, spiritually dead and even stupid. Divine Teacher, Christ gives definitive critique of the failures of the Pharisees and right practice, using memorable imagery (the dirty cup). Divine Prophet, Christ uses the proclamation of woes/curses as did Old Testament prophets.  

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Reflect on Christ’s manly combative nature to confront evil and His willingness to use scathing words that combine both accusation and humor.   

2) Christ pronounces doom on the “religious” Pharisees for their false ritualistic practices; imagine the eternal horror that awaits priests and bishops who have engaged in and covered up their homosexual acts, especially their crimes against boys and young men. Review the Church’s teaching about Homosexual Acts (CCC 1867, 2357-2359, 2396) and pray for Christ to cleanse His Holy Church of the abomination of homosexuality.  

3) While Christ condemns the hypocritical rituals of the Pharisees, He does not condemn acts of piety. Renew your understanding of Popular Piety (CCC 1674-1676, 1679) and pray for Christ to help build a consistent practice of praying the Rosary and to develop a deep devotion to St. Joseph (see the Encyclical, Quamquam Pluries).