This is a really special week coming up. For the kids (and for some adults) it’s Halloween on Monday. That’s followed by the beautiful Solemnities of All Saints and All Souls. Those two days evoke in me the same feelings I had when I first read St. Paul’s words in Sunday’s Second Reading: We were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children. With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well, so dearly beloved had you become to us. Those are words that ideally can be spoken by anyone – lay or cleric – who serves the people of God.
Contrast this with the harshness of Malachi’s words to the priests of Jerusalem, who were fraudulently sacrificing blind, sick, and crippled animals to the Lord, instead of the unblemished creatures called for in the Law of Moses.
Those words are echoed by Jesus in the Gospel, where he basically calls the scribes and Pharisees a bunch of fakes who think they’re better than others because of their office and their religious practices.
In both cases, the powers-that-be were wearing masks of piety and righteousness, asks which covered up a lust for power, wealth and status.
Paul wasn’t wearing a mask. He was quite outspoken about his love and affection for the Church, even while at times criticizing the new converts for some of their unchristian activities.
It takes a lot of energy to constantly wear a mask or a costume. It’s such a waste too, because most people have a pretty good “phony-meter.” How much easier it is to take it off, and simply be ourselves before others–a humble, grateful, loving person.
Be God’s smile for someone today!
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.