St. Augustine of Hippo, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Reading 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5,8-10
Gospel Matthew 23:13-22

"‘You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.’"

Christians often confess the sin of anger, perhaps without considering that anger cannot only be justified at times, but indeed can at times even be righteous. Perhaps the most famous example from the earthly life of our Savior is His overturning the tables of the money-changers in the Temple. However, the words of Jesus also at times demonstrate anger on His part. His words in today’s Gospel passage could hardly have been spoken without anger. But when justified, anger must be directed to an object deserving anger. What is the object of Jesus’ condemnation today?

We might at first consider the object of Jesus’ anger to be the scribes and Pharisees, and in one sense that’s true. But we ought to remember that on Calvary, Jesus died for them as for us, with deep love in His Sacred Heart for them. Jesus never at any moment did not want these “blind fools” to “exult in glory” in Heaven.

Today’s redaction of the Gospel says that Jesus’ words were said “to the crowds and to His disciples”. Indirectly, He may have said these words for their sake, but clearly they were directed to the scribes and Pharisees. More importantly, His words were spoken not only for the crowds and His disciples, but also for the scribes and Pharisees: for their conversion, that they might “rejoice in [Jesus as] their king”.