The Lot of Pharisees and Lawyers

Luke 11: 42-46
Gal 5: 18-25 / Ps 1: 1-4 and 6

Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them.
(Luke 11: 46)

Those seats of honor in high places
Will never put us in God’s graces.
Nor man-made laws can guarantee
Man’s passage to eternity.

‘But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the market-places. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.’ One of the lawyers answered him, ‘Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too.’ And he said, ‘Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them. (Luke 11: 42-46)

Reflection

By exalting themselves, the proud condemn themselves to oblivion, like forgotten graves, trod on and dishonored. But those who conduct their affairs with humility will be “loved more than a giver of gifts, for the more humble you are, the greater you are in the eyes of God and man. For great is the power of God; by the humble He is glorified.” (Sir.4: 17-19)

In the case of lawyers and judges, or the so-called ‘scholars of the law’ who muddle the affairs of men with laws they themselves craft and interpret for their own benefit, they share the burden of guilt. Truth and Justice are often sacrificed in the salas of ‘legalese’ manipulations and compromises.

My elder brother is a judge whose integrity and forthrightness I admire. So was my father-in-law. Like them, there are also many lawyers in our running club and brotherhood that we hold in high esteem. But every now and then one meets a ‘practical professional’ of the law who would rather use connections than true merits as a leverage to win a case. Like the trial lawyer I met who was a guest in our hotel. He was from out of town and had a case being tried in one of the local courts. He was brimming with confidence that day because according to him, by the use of hand signals, he discovered that he and the judge trying his case belonged to the same “brotherhood”. I was incredulous and bluntly asked, “You mean your ‘brotherhood’ places connections above justice and the law?” I hoped it would not take him long to realize that he had not only given the word “brotherhood” a bad name, but had put his organization as well as his profession in bad light.

Our brotherhood continues to promote this campaign for honesty: “Be honest even if others are not, even if others cannot, even if others will not.”

Lord, grant us the grace to realize that there is no substitute for what is honest, just, and moral, and no amount of human laws crafted by the most brilliant minds can ever change even one letter of these timeless values of Your Divine Law. May Your greatest law of love rule our lives now and forever. Amen.

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