2 Thes 1:1-5, 11-12
Convert Us, O Lord
Today’s gospel shows us an angry Jesus. He is thoroughly frustrated with the Scribes and Pharisees. As the religious leaders of his people, they should be helping others to find God. Instead, they seem to be placing obstacles in the way. Jesus even accuses them of teaching the converts they do make to be “twice as wicked as yourselves.”
How account for such ferocious language? The underlying problem seems to be a distorted sense of values. The Scribes and Pharisees are not deliberately setting out to thwart God’s designs. But something has happened to their priorities. They seem in practice, though surely not in theory, to be more impressed by the gold of the temple and their own gift offerings than by the One who dwells in the temple and to whom the gifts are offered.
Matthew in presenting his account of the confrontation is probably preoccupied with the conflicts existing between the Jewish converts, for whom he composed his Gospel, and their Jewish neighbors—perhaps also with conflicts within the Christian community itself. However, to become so obsessed with the incidental as to lose sight of the truly important is a universal human temptation. We can all be prey to it, and it can cause immense damage. The most profitable way to reflect on the message of this passage may be to see it as a call to conversion in our own lives and in the life of our community. It can inspire us to pray more fervently, “Lead us not into temptation. Deliver us from evil.” Also, we can appeal to Monica, the saint remembered for her persevering prayer for the conversion of her son, Augustine, to intercede on our behalf.
- Sr. Mary O’Brien, C.P.