The Danger of Hypocrisy

February 8, 2022
Tuesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Jerome Emiliani, Priest—Optional Memorial

Saint Josephine Bakhita, Virgin—Optional Memorial


“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:
This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.”  Mark 7:6-8

Once again, Jesus spoke the hard truth that the Pharisees needed to hear.  He told them directly that they were hypocrites and that they were the ones of whom Isaiah spoke in the quoted passage.  It most certainly was a tense scene.

Setting aside the drama of the encounter, let’s look more clearly at the actual quote from Isaiah.  It says four things: 

1. This people honors me with their lips.
2. Their hearts are far from me.
3. They worship in vain.
4. They present their own human laws as if they were God’s.

What would the ideal transformation of these hypocritical errors look like?  If the Pharisees were to completely change, what may Jesus say of them?  Perhaps He would say the following:

1. Your worship of me is holy because you truly embrace my divine will in your life.
2. Therefore, the honor you give me with your lips flows from your pure heart of faith and love.

So what is the key message we should take from this for our own lives?  We should take from it two simple facts.  First, the will of God must take hold of our lives and become the basis and foundation of everything.  His will, His law, His precepts are our rock foundation.  God has established His truth as the basis of human life and we must strive to humbly embrace His law.  

His law includes all publicly revealed teachings of our faith, found in Scripture and in the Church, and it includes all that we hear God speaking to us in our own lives.  The Pharisees, in their lack of humility, could not see these truths.  Instead, they held onto their own ideas and convictions alone.  God chastised them harshly for this out of love.

Secondly, we should realize that when we embrace the divine law, and His particular will for our lives, we will be pure of heart and will be freed to love Him with outward expressions.  We will worship Him from our hearts and this will flow through our words and actions.  But this will never happen if we do not start with His divine law.

Reflect, today, upon whether or not you are willing to humbly embrace all of the truths that God has revealed and whether you are willing to make them the foundation of your life.  If you do this, all else will flow forth in love and worship.

Lord of all Truth, help me to love Your holy and divine law.  Help me to embrace it with my whole heart.  I do believe in You and in all that You have spoken through the ages.  I believe in what You speak to my heart regarding my own life.  Give me the grace to embrace Your holy will and, in that embrace, to be transformed both interiorly and exteriorly.  Jesus, I trust in You.

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Scripture Meditations for Ordinary Time

All Saints/Feasts

Saints of the Day –

Saint Jerome Emiliani, Priest

Saint Josephine Bakhita, Virgin

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: The Meal in the House of the Pharisee By James Tissot, via  Brooklyn Museum