Tuesday of the Twenty-EighthWeek in Ordinary Time

The form and the substance

After he had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you. Lk 11,37-41

It is good practice to wash our hands before sitting at the table for lunch, because during the day we touch everything and it is not good that the food becomes a vehicle of infection in our body.
This hygienic practice in the jewish world at the Jesus’ time had became law, which he certainly knew and respected. Today, however, being invited for lunch by a pharisee, he deliberately infringed that law, as he often does on the Sabbath, to create the opportunity to notify that the form  is important, but the substance is even more. At those times, as now, the respect for the rules, which should be the outward manifestation of the inner values​​, often serves to hide the fact that these values ​​do not exist, so as the communication results to hide, rather than to transmit the thoughts. Today, Jesus decided to denounce this false formalism and sits at the table without first washing your hands: “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil”. For Jesus the feelings and the attitudes of the heart are more important: the love, the forgiveness, the peace, the honesty, the purity of thought, the compassion, the attention to the needs of the poor people. Jesus, speaking of the plate, calls for rather changing in alms the contained food: “But as to what is within, give alms”. Since in the today passage the cup and the dish symbolize the people, Jesus calls for a global alms, a complete donation of what we are and  of what we have. It is to make ​​available to the others, without ostentation, our talents  to be traded as those of the famous parable. It is not only a pittance of money: it is a gift of love, peace, forgiveness, sharing and compassion. These are sometimes the talents to be donated together with the money requested to us.

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