Daily homily for Tuesday of the 18th Week in Ordinary Time Cycle I (1)

Daily homily for Tuesday of the 18th Week in Ordinary Time Cycle I

Theme: It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.

By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

 

Homily for Tuesday August 3 2021

Mt 15:1‐2.10‐14
Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They do not wash [their] hands when they eat a meal.”

He summoned the crowd and said to them, “Hear and understand. It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.” Then his disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” He said in reply, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides (of the blind). If a blind person leads a blind person, both will fall into a pit.”

There is an amusing story about two blind men. The first one is standing on the side of the road, intending to cross the street. Then the second blind man comes up on the side and accidentally nudges the first. Both think that someone is volunteering to help them cross the street. ʺMay I?ʺ, asks the first, grabbing the arm of the second. ʺBy all means!ʺ came the cheerful reply. And without another word they both stepped onto the road, confident that someone is leading them. As expected, tire screeches and crashes could be heard all over the street, while the two blind men engage in animated conversation as they cross the street.

This is precisely what the Lord says in the Gospel today: “If a blind person leads a blind person, both will fall into a pit.” There is no problem being blind if one seeks assistance. What is more unfortunate, though, is when the guide is another blind person who does not admit he is blind. That is exactly the case with the Pharisees.

They are the official teachers of the Law. They are experts in interpreting even the smallest detail of the Mosaic Law. They know about a lot of things, but not the fact that they are spiritually blind. Their pride, arrogance and selfishness make them blind, not only to their own mistakes but also to the inherent goodness of others. They believe they are the best and holiest persons on earth. So they rashly judge and condemn people. With guides like them, the people are certainly in grave spiritual danger.

In the Gospel today, the issue is on ritual washing of hands before meals. It is not for any hygienic reason. The Pharisees are quick to notice that His disciples do not observe this ritual washing. Jesus knows this is just a man-made tradition that is meaningless, for as He declares, “It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.”

Spiritual blindness, unfortunately, is not uncommon nowadays. It is the refusal to see one’s own shortcomings and flaws due to pride, avarice and selfishness. In short, to persist in these sins is what constitutes spiritual blindness.

Pope Francis has the right words on this. He said: “[Sin] is a blindness of the spirit, which prevents us from seeing what is most important, from fixing our gaze on the love that gives us life. This blindness leads us little by little to dwell on what is superficial, until we are indifferent to others and to what is good. How many temptations have the power to cloud the heart’s vision and to make it myopic! How easy and misguided it is to believe that life depends on what we have, on our successes and on the approval we receive; to believe that the economy is only for profit and consumption; that personal desires are more important than social responsibility! When we only look to ourselves, we become blind, lifeless and self-centered, devoid of joy and freedom. What an awful thing!”

Before we become spiritually blind ourselves, let us take care not to be unkind to the spiritually blind. Rather, let us help them get out of the darkness they are in, so that they may be able see the light of Christ and His Gospel. As Christians, we are, after all, required to do spiritual works of mercy. Three of these spiritual works refer to helping those in darkness: to instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful and to admonish sinners.

The famous deaf-blind author, Helen Keller, said, “There is no better way to thank God for your sight than by giving a helping hand to someone in the dark.”

Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

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