Jesus Denounces Scribes and Pharisees

Jesus Denounces Scribes and Pharisees


Reflection on the Gospel of the Saturday
In The Twentieth Week Of Ordinary Time


Matthew 23: 1-12

The Post Exilic Israelites came to the realization of a basic thumb rule to live a happy life in the promised land. They has received the Law God from God, when he gave the 10 Commandments (= Law) to Moses. As and when they followed the law they flourished in the promised land. As and when they disobeyed the law they were oppressed and slaves to others in the promise land or else where. This clarity came to the Israelite people when they were captured and in exile in Babylonian. In the process they had lost their Promised Land and Temple. So when they returned back to the promised land, under the new leadership, they became extremely rigid in practicing their faith. They decide to meet and everything the Law required them to do and say – that is the ritual part of the faith. So they could say to God, yes I am keeping the Law. But what they dis was only of keeping the physical Law, but there was a spiritual side to the Law also – that is, to foster a relationship with God. They missed this and were not ready to be bothered with this. The Pharisees and Sadduccees  in todays Gospel  were the modern day representatives of the old leadership and they were well trained in the physical Law. The people had high regard for them and looked up to them, and as such called them as rabbis.


Role of a Rabbi

  • He has to teach the law of Moses without any fault
  • He has to read the law and make sure people understand and practice it.
  • He has to lead the people from darkness to light.
  • He has to lead the people in right direction of worship
  • He has to show the people their wrong doings.


The duties and responsibility of the Pharisees and Sadducees were high,  as they sat on the seat of Moses, meaning their responsibility to teach and guide the people was like that of Moses. So they ruled the people in place of Moses, however they least bother to practice the law in that they did things because it was written, but never lived the Law, meaning they never understood things with the heart. For Example, ff they did live the Law with their heart, they would have understood mercy and compassion and the love – patience of God.  Therefore Jesus warned his disciples not to follow in their footsteps.

Like this, the Pharisees and Sadducees in our Parish, family, society, very often condemn people for their acts, but actually they themselves have failed to understand God’s heart and his teachings in their own life. Thus they play dual roles of deceit by showing themselves as righteous person. Today’s Gospel passage  is a warning to all such person who are in authority and leading people. Let’s not be an obstacle for others with their teaching and practical living.

Actions speaks more than a word.

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