Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Feast of Saint Augustine
Good morning. I am not typically inclined to turn to Sigmund Freud for direction being the atheist that he claimed to be, yet these words by him go directly to the heart of today’s Gospel. “He does not believe that does not live according to his belief.” In today’s Gospel our Lord cuts to the quick in admonishing the Pharisees and other church leadership of His day. He notes clearly their tenacity for being duplicitous. He looks straight into their hearts and sees their intentions and more so He notes their tendency for living lives apart from what they preach. The reading this morning offers considerable meaning for me in this particular moment in time. The church leadership being addressed by Jesus was filled with considerable pride, and self-serving and misdirected righteousness. Their mantra was and remains, “Any way is right if it’s right for me.”
I’m reminded of a line by Jim Fair, a Catholic writer for Catholic.net a couple of years ago, in response to the alleged sexual escapades of a United States Senator. Mr. Fair suggested “I’d rather have someone in congress who advocates the right policy and falls short of practicing it than someone who advocates the wrong policy and behaves accordingly.” I’m thinking that about sums up the difference between us simple homespun sinners and hypocrites. If we had to be free of sin before we could preach or teach about it we’d all be standing right alongside the Pharisees.
We might fail endlessly to live up to our beliefs yet still have a desire to live the best we know how. That is not hypocrisy; that simply makes us a sinner like everyone else. Hypocrites on the other hand engage in a pretentious charade of suggesting to represent the good side of things while all the while not caring in the least for things but how they can best serve their own needs. They simply don’t care.
It is all about our intentions. We must bear in mind the words of Saint Augustine whose life we celebrate today: “This is the very perfection of a man, to find out his own imperfections.” Like the Pharisees in today’s reading, our Lord looks straight into our hearts. He knows our intentions. He knows our desire to live loving lives of self-giving. He knows we mean to love our spouse, our family, and even our enemies as He showed us to love. As Christians let us lovingly help one another do our best. Make a great day!
Today we recall the good life, gifts, and work of Saint Augustine.
Posted by Donald Gatwood at 6:53 AM