The Gospel reading from the Mass for Wednesday of the 21st Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 23:27-32.

Completing His scathing warning of the seven woes to the Pharisees, in the sixth and seventh woes, Christ condemns their prideful desire to be noticed as righteous and their boastful claims of tolerance. “Woes” are a declaration of doom, curses that warn the unrepentant of God’s coming judgment.

The sixth woe condemns the Pharisees for their hypocritical and conspicuous acts of self-righteousness. Painting tombs with whitewash showed deference to the dead and made it clear where the dead were buried so men could avoid becoming ritually impure by accidental contact. Christ exposes the Pharisees motives as hypocritical because they actually whitewashed tombs to receive praise from others; Christ sees through their motives, revealing that the Pharisees are spiritually dead inside and full of evil. The seventh woe condemns the Pharisees of hypocrisy and pride for their false acts of honoring the prophets and their boasts that they would not have killed the prophets as their fathers had; Christ (the Divine Prophet) condemns their lies, knowing that the Pharisees’ will successfully carry out their schemes to kill Him in the Crucifixion.

Though omitted in today’s reading, the next verses (v. 33-36) describe Christ’s searing condemnation of the Pharisees for their future treachery: “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to Hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify; and some you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth…Truly I say to you, all this will come upon this generation.”

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ has perfect knowledge of the inner evil motives of the Pharisees. Divine King, Christ brutally compares the Pharisees to serpents (a reference to Satan at Eden). The Divine Prophet, Christ speaks in the first person, describing the future evil acts of the Pharisees and alludes to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Divine Judge, Christ warns the Pharisees of their trajectory towards Hell and the awful burden of sin they will bear for their actions.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ knows the Pharisees are scheming to murder Him. Reflect on Christ’s impressive courage, that despite the powerful Pharisees’ plans, He harshly condemns them publicly, right in the Temple.

2) In the Gospel verses omitted from the Missal (v. 33-36), Christ harshly condemns evil men and warns them of being condemned to Hell. Refresh your understanding of Hell (CCC 1033-1037, 1056-1057) and pray for Christ to give you the Grace to repent, growing in holiness and to be saved from Hell.

3) As in Christ’s time when evil men controlled social dialog, today, those in control of mass media promote sin, oppose the teachings of Christ and attack and seek to silence men who seek to speak the truth. Review the Catechism’s section on Social Communications Media (CCC 2493-2499) and pray for Christ to protect you from lies and to give you the courage to always stand for His Truth.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Glorious Mysteries

Daily Devotion – Saint Joseph

Virtue of the Day – Temperance

Corporal Work of Mercy – To visit the imprisoned

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To comfort the sorrowful