1. Introductory prayer for Bible Verses about Hypocrisy – Matthew 23:1-12
I pause and slowly calm myself. I make the sign of the cross, becoming more deeply aware of God’s presence within me and in everything that surrounds me. I ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit, for the gift of being moved by God’s word, which I am now allowed to read, listen to, ponder, and allow it to shape Christ within me (Gal 4:19), that I may become merciful, just as the heavenly Father is merciful (Lk 6:36). I ask for this in my own words or by using the following:
Please grant me the grace to be able to listen from the outside and from within. From the outside, the words I read, from within, the feelings and impulses that arise. Slowly, I begin to read the passage from the Gospel. Word by word. Line by line. I gaze upon Him who speaks to me.
2. Reading – Listening: Bible Verses about Hypocrisy – Matthew 23:1-12
23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.
8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
3. Thoughts on the Gospel: Bible Verses about Hypocrisy – Matthew 23:1-12 – Meaning and Commentary
Everyone more or less desires praise and respect and to be seen in the best light, with their good qualities and successes. This is entirely natural. The problem arises when we seek praise and become offended if we don’t receive it.
Only God sees us as we truly are. He values us and rejoices in us, for we are His image, His beloved sons and daughters, even though we are weak and cannot fully live without His help. Often, we fall into sin, and we cannot live without His mercy.
Today’s Gospel passage tells how Jesus warned the scribes and Pharisees, the religious authorities of the Jewish people, to teach and serve with humility and sincerity, not with pride and the pursuit of their own privileges and honor. They often sought to draw attention to themselves, their position, and their honor through respect and observance of the law, seeking recognition for themselves rather than for God. They turned faith into a burden rather than a joy for the people.
Moses’ law expressly commanded all fathers to be teachers and guides to their children, helping them understand and listen to God’s instructions (Deuteronomy 6:7). When Jesus admonished the scribes and Pharisees, the religious authorities of the Jewish people, in front of His disciples, He warned them against the temptation of seeking recognition and titles for themselves, rather than seeking God and serving Him and others.
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The Bible often warns us about the danger of self-righteous pride. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; Proverbs 3:24).
Respect for God and His ways leads us to humility and a simple heart. True humility doesn’t mean seeing ourselves as bad or having a low opinion of ourselves or feeling inferior to others. True humility frees us from preoccupation with ourselves and the need for recognition from others, as we deeply understand our worth in God the Father.
Having a low opinion of ourselves affects us in the opposite way; it makes us incapable of being who we truly are as God’s image, as God sees us (Psalm 139:1-4). True humility frees us from falling into despair and pride. It enables us to recognize how gifted we are and to be genuinely grateful for all that we are and have. Humble people are always thankful and carry the joy of gratitude within them.
Humility is the queen or foundation of all other virtues because it enables us to see and judge ourselves and others correctly, just as God does. It helps us become teachable and gain true wisdom and a holistic view of reality. It directs our energy, passion, and will to dedicate ourselves to something greater than ourselves. It liberates us to love ourselves and others willingly and selflessly, to do good for their sake and not for the sake of seeking recognition, praise, and honor for ourselves.
Apostle Paul gives us the greatest example and model of humility in the person of Jesus Christ, who emptied Himself and took on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7-8). He became a servant to all of us to free us from the tyranny of selfish pride, care, and fear for ourselves. Through the Holy Spirit, He equipped us to serve every person as He did, allowing them to experience Jesus’ service through our serving love. Through this, a person can be saved and can live eternally.”
4. Meditation – Thinking
I am now reflecting on the heard Word of God. I am looking at Jesus and other individuals in the passage. I am observing how the Word of God touches my thoughts and feelings, how it reveals God to me and me to myself and others in Him. The following thoughts or questions can also be helpful:
- If I adopt the attitude of humility of Jesus Christ, how will it affect my life and relationships?
- I will try to become aware of where and when in the last month I have noticed that Jesus has served me. How does this awareness impact me and my relationships?
5. Personal Prayer
In the next moments of silence, I talk about this with Jesus. I tell him what I think, what I feel, what I want. I ask him for the grace that I need for … (make your conversation with God).
6. Contemplation – Quiet moment with God
I allow everything within me to fall silent. I am simply present in God, just as He is present in me. Perhaps from this silence and stillness, I will sense even more of God’s address and His desire for me to be always with Him and to do everything with Him and in Him…
When I enter into a personal relationship with God, He transforms me, makes me more loving, and inspires me to take concrete action…
8. Prayer at the end
Heavenly Father, thank you for your humility and service, which you fully revealed through your Son, Jesus Christ. Help me, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, to be humble and serve in all my relationships as well.
9. Review of my prayer meditation or reflection
This is the time when I became aware of and articulate what was happening within me during prayer. The following questions can assist me in reflection:
- What was happening during prayer? What feelings and thoughts could I discern within myself?
- What did I learn about God, His relationship with me and others, and my own relationship with Him and others?
- How did I conclude my prayer? What did I receive in it for my everyday life?
- In the end, I can jot down my insights, discoveries, and realizations. I also note where I encountered difficulties, as these can be valuable in understanding God’s relationship with me and my relationship with Him. They can also help me find a more suitable way of praying. Then, I express gratitude to the triune God for everything.
Lectio Divina meditations are published and adapted with permission from the Jesuits home – ignacijevdom.si
Text from the Bible – New International Version (NIV)