In his farewell speech to the Hebrews before they enter into the promised land, Moses urges them many times and in many ways to remain faithful to God. In today’s excerpt, he begins by saying, “Hear the statures and decrees which I am teaching you… Observe them carefully.” His message is simple: listen to God, remain in His presence, follow His ways and life will be good. It seems so simple, but before we criticize the Hebrews for failing to follow Moses’ exhortations we should ask ourselves how well we, today, follow those same simple exhortations. We might ask ourselves, in a moment of honesty, “Do I believe them?”
St. James tells us in the second reading that, All good giving and every perfect gift is from above.” Again, we can ask ourselves, “Do I believe in God’s loving generosity? Do I trust Him?”
What Jesus encounters in today’s Gospel with the Pharisees and the scribes is no different than what we’ve heard before. They question His loyalty to the law, a law originally given to them by God through Moses but altered and amended over the years to suit the preferences of their leaders—disobeying Moses’ caution to “not add to what I command you nor subtract from it.” Rather than listen to God, remain in His presence and follow His ways they modified the law to suit their own preferences. Once again, Jesus cautions us about our own internal attitudes.
Humility is hard to define and difficult to measure. St. James tells us to humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you. In humility, I hear God’s word first and then observe it through my words and actions. In this way, I humbly conform myself to His image and accept all things with gratitude; my internal attitudes are then displaced by His loving Mercy.