What Does it Mean to Be Letter of the Law?
Jesus speaks often in Holy Scripture on avoiding hypocrisy and avoiding this sin. “Woe unto you, the law teachers and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear elegant from the outside, but inside are full of skeletons and dead men and all manner of anything unclean, on the outside you are righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27:32). These are strong words from our Lord, and there is much to examine in terms of what they mean not only for yesteryear, but today and for all of us right now. Jesus is speaking about avoiding hypocrisy and the evil of what it means to act in one way but to truly be something else on the inside.
What Can We Learn from Jesus about Hypocrisy’?
As humans, all of us may have a different definition of what it means to be a hypocrite. There are tons of ways to live out hypocrisy in our world, but in this context, we will stick with religious hypocrisy. In today’s world there is a view of one who is well-catechized, who practices many devotions, prays incessantly for others to convert and to find the “right way.” On the other side, there are those who do not see the value of the Eucharist, who may be very much into social justice issues, but who do not see the value of life from conception until natural death. One may divide these camps into conservative and liberal, but in the Lord’s eyes we are all more than just a political issue to be debated. We are all his children, and he loves each one of us. What we can learn about hypocrisy is there are many forms especially in today’s world.
So How Do We Avoid It?
Many of the above points will continued to be argued on what it means to be a hypocrite, but with Jesus it is said simply in Matthew 25 in Holy Scripture. Jesus separated the sheep from the goats. In Scripture it says, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or lacking clothes, sick and in prison, and did not help you?” (Matthew 25:44). His answer is simple. When you neglected to do it for the least of mine, you neglected to do it for me. Jesus is not just speaking about the tangible items of our lives all needed for survival, but which are all immensely important. He is speaking about how we treat other people. He is speaking about how we love the marginalized, the outcast, and the neglected. We all know people who are unpopular, uncared for, and unloved. We can be the bridge for them to know God’s love despite what others think of us. To avoid hypocrisy, love the unlovable, and care for those who are neglected. Worry not about popularity, power, and prestige and instead make friends with the outcast and rejected and you will not be a hypocrite in the eyes of God in this regard. Treat people kindly during the day and always. Do not act out in anger. Be loving and kind. Do not worry excessively about the salvation of the world, but do your part by praying, loving, and being gentle, patient, and Christ-like in all ways.