Today, Christ does not speak lightly. He calls the Pharisees and Scribes blind not once, but twice. Knowing the actions of the Pharisees throughout the Gospel--like their efforts to trick Jesus into breaking the law--it easy to agree with Jesus’ judgement of them without looking inward. I found myself doing this. I was judging the Pharisees, acknowledging them as hypocrites, and allowing myself to move on without reflecting on how I may be blind myself.
It is clear that Jesus’ words at the end of the Gospel were not just meant for the Pharisees of His time. He says, “You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.”
In these words, I hear Jesus’ calling me to a greater way of living--one that is less about myself, about judgement of others, and more about Christ himself.
This passage humbled me. I began with a judgement myself, and ended with the realization that I was just as blind as those I was judging. Today’s Gospel is reminiscent of Matthew 7:5, when Christ tells us to remove the wooden beam from our own eye before removing the splinter from someone else’s. However, this time, Christ is calling for a more radical transformation. One that rids itself of all “plunder and self-indulgence.”
Reading Jesus’ call to cleanse the inside of my cup is intimidating.
How exactly am I supposed to do this? When will I know when I am actually “clean?” Fortunately, the Church gives us the first reading, reminding me that I do not have to go through this radical transformation alone. St. Paul says, “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father... encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.”
I know I am not alone in this lifelong cleaning of the inside of my cup. It is only through Christ that I can truly strengthen my heart and soul enough so that the “outside may be clean.” It is a journey that may never be fully completed, but I am satisfied in knowing that although I may always be a work-in-progress, Christ is there for everlasting encouragement.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lauren Goodwin is a current student at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC where she combines her two passions of faith and literature in her studies. She has a great love for the Gospel and education and hopes to be a Theology or English teacher one day. You can often find her reading the classics or driving around DC with her roommates. In 2018, she published her collection of personal essays titled What What What. You can find more about her here.