“Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites." Mt 23:25
Being blind is not always a bad thing. Pope John XXIII wrote in his diary: See everything, overlook a great deal, correct a little. Good advice for all, but especially leaders and parents. Sometimes it is better not to "see" or to look away from those we are trying to lead, especially if they are trying something for the first time. Often, when I am trying to help people learn the art of public reading in church, I don't look at them since getting up in front of others is difficult enough without thinking someone is staring at you.
But this is not what Jesus is talking about in Matthew's gospel. Concerned that the leaders of the Jewish community are more concerned with their own welfare than proclaiming and interpreting the Law and the Prophets, Jesus warns them about looking without seeing and obsessing about money and property to the detriment of the Law.
It is often clear in the Gospels that the Scribes and Pharisees are more concerned with tripping Jesus up than with hearing his message or listening to him with respect. Alarmed that Jesus might be stripping them of the little power they had, they challenge his knowledge of the Law and are blind to his good works on behalf of the poor.
The struggles of the Jewish leaders remain ours. Too often we cling to the shallow knowledge we have or defend our behavior rather than ask God for insight about how better to live the Gospel. Unless we remain deeply rooted in the foundational values of the Gospel, we will fail to see the Lord in the faces and lives of the poor.
Today, open the eyes of your heart to those most in need.
What situations in your family or church are most difficult for you to see and address?