Catholic Men’s Daily Devotional and Bible Study – 21st Week in Ordinary time – Wednesday – 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 conspicuous acts of 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.
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 Christ – Son 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 politically-correct culture of sin acceptance, standing up for truth carries real costs: being accused of bigotry, intolerance and “fundamentalism”; being arrested for “hate speech”; being sued. Pray for Christ to fill you with prudence to know when to fight and the courage to fearlessly and combatively proclaim His truth when necessary.
3) The majority of men regularly watch pornography, a mortal sin that leads to Hell, foolishly thinking their actions are hidden. Reflect on Christ’s perfect knowledge of the inner state of men’s souls and His willingness to condemn those who refuse to repent. Repent, go to Confession and begin to pray daily for Christ to help you in the Spiritual Combat. In Christ, you can break the deadly habit of porn.
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