FIRST READING
“Hold to the traditions which you were taught by us.
A reading from the second Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 2: 1 -3a.14-17)

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet him, we beg you, brethren, not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word, or by letter purporting to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. God has called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

The word of the Lord.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm96:10.11-12a. l2b- 13 (R. 13b)
R/. The Lord comes to judge the earth.

Say to the nations, “The Lord is king.”
The world he made firm in its place;
he will judge the peoples in fairness. R.

Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad;
let the sea and all within it thunder praise.
Let the land and all it bears rejoice. R.

Then will all the trees of the wood shout for
joy at the presence of the Lord, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with justice;
he will govern the peoples with his truth. R.

ALLELUIA   Hebrews 4:12
Alleluia. The word of the Lord is living and active discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Alleluia.

GOSPEL               
“These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 23:23-26)

At that time: Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity. You blind Pharisee! first cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Today’s Reflection

There are matters which strike at the heart our relationship with God. These matters are certainly not the external features of religion. Our society has much regard for church goers, those who strictly adhere to religious practices, who contribute their tithes, who spend quality time in adoration, and even those who work miracles. We hold these ‘religious people’ in great esteem because of their diligence and adherence to prescribed religious practices. However, Jesus’ critique of Scribes and Pharisees encourages us to redefine our understanding of what God expects from us. The most essential matter of religion is not sacrifice but justice and mercy, which are possible only when we understand that this is what God expects from us.

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